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KARACHI: Lucky Electric Power has decided to use indigenous coal from Thar for power generation at its 660-megawatt Port Qasim plant, which is likely to achieve financial close by March 2017 and commence commercial operations by December 2019.

This will make it the first power plant in the country to use Thar lignite (coal) away from the mine mouth.

Although the project was originally based on imported coal, it was converted to indigenous coal resources in line with the national policy of reducing reliance on imported coal.

Lucky Electric Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lucky Cement, is being set up at an estimated project cost of $850 million.

Talking to a group of journalists, CFO Naeem Kasbati said the company has already obtained required approvals, including the letter of support and National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) upfront tariff. It has also leased 250 acres of land close to Port Qasim.

Mr Kasbati said the 660MW coal power plant of Lucky Electric Power is based on supercritical technology to ensure the highest efficiency level and reduce emissions. It may be noted that mine-mouth power projects under construction in Thar are using subcritical technology.

Responding to a question, Mr Kasbati said it is false that Thar lignite (coal) can only be used at the mine mouth by power plants, adding that his company hired renowned experts to ensure that Thar coal was equally good for power generation away from the mine mouth.

He said the company selected one of the most feasible sites for the power plant in terms of power evacuation, availability of abundant cooling water, fuel supply chain, proximity to the industrial area and distance from the main city.

Lucky Electric Power has done due diligence of Thar coal for its use in the power plant and is now formalising a coal supply agreement with Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company. An agreement for sustainable coal supply will be finalised by the end of this month, he noted.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2016