KARACHI (APP) - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah on Saturday said the government is fully committed to the development of Thar coal which has the potential of turning the countrys economy around. The Sindh CM said this while presiding over the 13th meeting of Thar Coal and Energy Board (TCEB), at the CM House here. The Sindh CM welcomed the participants of the meeting and said that Thar coal reserves can be used for power generation, chemical production and other purposes and have the potential of providing energy security to the country, he said. Secretary Coal and Energy/Managing Director Thar Coal and Energy Board, Muhammad Younus Dhaga briefed the Board about the status of development of various blocks in Thar exploration area and informed that dried coal (lignite) from Thar, after briquetting, can be transported and utilised by retrofited thermal power plants in Pakistan. Thar Block-II coal mining, briquetting and power was discussed in the meeting and focal persons from both sides were nominated for further due diligence of the project. Chairman Sindh Board of Investment (SBI) Zubair Motiwala briefed the Board about the process of international competitive bidding and said that as per TCEBs decision in the 12th meeting, the Block-I of Thar Coalfields was allocated to the renowned Chinese company Global Mining. Further, an Australian Company M/s Australasian Continental Energy submitted proposal of coal mining of six million tonnes per annum initially, to be scaled up to 18 million tonnes/annum. They intend to initially generate 1100 MW in five years, which in 10 years would reach 2000 MW and around 3000 MW in 15 years. The Evaluation Committee recommended to the Board that in view of apparent track record of fund raising for similar projects by its sponsors, the Australasian Continental Energy Pvt Ltd may be offered Block IV, subject to condition that they would provide following the to GoS within two months: credible Financing Plan for the project including debt/equity financing, their audited financial statements and other required documents. The Board also approved the recommendation of the evaluation committee. CEO Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company, Khalid Mansoor in his presentation briefed on the progress on Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company. He informed that substantial progress was made for Chinese financing of the project at the joint Energy Working Groups meeting in Beijing on August 1 to 3, 2011. Asad Umar of Engro also attended the meeting and emphasised on early finalisation of infrastructure projects to enable the company to research financial close on project of 6.5m/ton of mining and 1200 MW of power generation. Chairman Underground Coal Gasification Project, Dr. Samar Mubarakmand briefed the TCEB that the project for the generation of 100MW of electricity through the process of Underground Coal Gasification at Block V in Tharparkar, Sindh was commenced and the first release of funds was on April 28, 2010. To-date $ 9.22 million have been released and the allocation for the project during PSDP 2011-2012 is $ 2.4 million. With the availability of $ 9.22 million, the first gasifier, civil works have been completed. Due to earthquake and tsunami in Japan, M/s Hitachi has delayed supply of compressors by five months till September, 2011. The first of the gasifiers have been completed with over 36000 ft of drilling and 18000 ft of steel casing. First test burn is expected in September, 2011. Total gas produced will be connected to the power turbines to generate electricity. Generation of 100 MW will start by December, 2013. Irshad Arain of NTDC informed the Board that NTDC is working for 1200 MW from Thar to up country by construction of 500 KV transmission lines from the power plant to Matiari along with an extension at 500 KV Grid Station of Mitiari by June 2014. This project is being financed by China Development Bank with an estimated cost of Rs 20b. In the end, the CM Sindh assured the Board that the Sindh Govt is giving high priority to the provision of infrastructure like water, roads, transmission network and effluent channel for the Thar coalfields. The development schemes of these infrastructure projects will be funded as per their requirement. Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar assured the support of the Federal Government for all Thar related projects. The meeting was attended by Naveed Qamar, Provincial Minister for Irrigation, Jam Saifullah Dharejo, Provincial Minister for Finance, Syed Murad Ali Shah, Sindh Revenue Minister, Jam Mehtab Dehar, Chairman SBI, Zubair Motiwala and others.