Coal News of Phulbari – Bangladesh

News on coal resources & coal basins of Bangladesh

Archive for the ‘phulbari’ Category

JS panel suggests speedy approval of coal policy

Posted by phulbarinews on August 16, 2009

bdnews24.com

A parliamentary panel has suggested speedy approval of a coal policy to tap Bangladesh”s coal resources to meet growing energy needs, reports bdnews24.com. The parliamentary standing committee on energy and mineral resources also suggested the ministry extracted coal from the country”s virgin coal fields.

“We need energy for development,” Subid Ali Bhuiyan, the committee chairman, told journalists Wednesday after the meeting at the parliament building”s media centre. “We have coal to meet our growing energy needs. Absence of a coal policy is considered one of the obstacles to extracting this coal.”

“Therefore, the committee has recommen-ded swift finalisation of the coal policy for proper utilisation of our coal resource,” he said.
The immediate-past military-installed interim government finalised a draft coal policy which provided the option for controversial “open-pit mining”.

The draft coal policy, prepared by BUET professor Abdul Matin Patowary, recommended that the government initiated an open-pit mining project in Barapukuria as a test case to see its impact on environment.

It also kept an option for coal export but made no mention of sharing of royalty between Bangladesh and the investors. The incumbent government has yet to decide on approving the coal policy, according to energy and mineral resources ministry sources.

They said the prime minister, who oversees the energy ministry, will see a presentation on the coal policy before giving her decision. Critics say the policy was aimed at making way for the British company Asia Energy to extract coal from Phulbari coal mine in Dinajpur through open-pit method, which would cause environmental disaster and displace thousands of people from their homesteads.

In 2006, at least two people were killed by law enforcers as Phulbari people took to the street demanding cancellation of the government”s agreement with Asia Energy. In the face of mass upsurge, then the BNP-led government announced scrapping of the deal with Asia Energy which reportedly released share bonds in the UK share markets.

But the interim government said the deal could not be rescinded because of “some difficulties”. Bangladesh has five coal fields-Barapukuria, Phulbari, Jamalganj, Dighipara and Khalaspur-all in Dinajpur and its surrounding districts.

Source: http://www.newstoday-bd.com/frontpage.asp?newsdate=7/23/2009#20659

Date: 23 July 2009, Bangladesh

Advertisements

Posted in coal, phulbari, Power & Energy | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Coal mining to bring benefits in northern area

Posted by phulbarinews on August 16, 2009

Torun Khan

The company of the coal mining project in northern Bangladesh has promised to compensate people for loss of land and businesses and modernize the area.

One young women says the mine is a good idea because it will create new jobs and she would consider going to work for the mining company. A local politician, meanwhile, says the mine will be good for the region’s economy and should attract other companies to invest in the area. He adds that when farmers lose the use of the land, another job will be waiting for them in the mine.

But the mine will provide around 2,100 jobs whilst it is being constructed, and 1,100 long term positions. Gary Lye, chief executive of the mining company Asia Energy, says the region will be better off in the long term. “At the moment farmers in the area cannot afford to do what they are doing now. A fact of life is, the coal under the ground is worth much more to everybody than growing rice on the surface,” he says.

will bring $21bn to Bangladesh over 30 years and add one per cent to GDP Asia Energy study said. Apart from coal, the mine will also provide co-products such as kaolin, clay, sand, rock and aggregate, which can be put to productive use.

During the 30-year expected life span of the mine, the land will be re-filled as the open pit moves forward, and revert back to agricultural use. And a huge artificial lake will remain when the mine’s supply of coal has been exhausted. The company says the lake will be clean and could be used as a safe water supply or for irrigation and fishing.

As if to emphasise the energy problems facing the country, the electricity failed twice whilst Mr Lye was explaining his company’s plan and emergency generators had to be switched on.

Source: http://weeklyeconomictimes.com/news-details.php?recordID=4155

Date: 21 July 2009, Bangladesh

Posted in coal, phulbari, Power & Energy | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Minister, FBCCI chief say: Pledge for change meaningless without electricity

Posted by phulbarinews on March 30, 2009

Staff Reporter

State Minister for Power and Energy Shamsul Hoq Tuku yesterday said that the government is unable to fulfil its election manifesto pledge without adequate electricity production. “Without electricity, our pledge for change will not be implemented,” he said a conference at Bangladesh China Friendship Conference Centre. The Centre For Policy and Dialogue (CPD) organised the conference.

For additional electricity production, it is urgent need to extract coal and exploration of gas, the Minister said. “We are extracting coal, but we have no policy on how to use this coal,” he said. “We must finalise the policy first with consultation of the experts and public, and then decide on mining.”

FBCCI President Annisul Huq said Power failure rate up 10 percent of factory production. “We do not have electricity 20 to 25 per cent of working hour.” He called upon the government to withdraw the licence tax for captive power and immediate decision on rental power plant for reducing energy crisis. He said that the businessmen are ready to provide financial support to strengthen BAPEX for gas exploration.

BUET Prof Nurul Islam said that the draft of a coal policy was submitted to the ministry at least eight times, but the ministry refused to work on it and finalise it. About the corruption in energy sector, he said, “Asia energy is so powerful that corruption of Asia energy was not investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission. This was apparently done to protect the interests of Asia energy,” he said.

In his keynote paper, former Power Division Secretary M Fouzul Kabir Khan said we should stop blame game and national consensus is must for energy security in the country. He recommended finalising the coal policy and passing energy conservation act as a policy and institutional reform in energy sector. The former secretary informed that the government supply only 1,830mmcfd of gas against the demand of 2,095mmcfd.

CUET Prof M Shamsul Islam said some private entrepreneurs in power sector earned huge money in the name of power generation. Eng Sheikh Mohammed Sahidullah said that it is no need to produce coal by open pit method.  “It will be able to meet our demand for coal by extracting under ground mining,” he said.

Imran Ahmed MP, BIDS research director Dr. Assaduzzman, former PDB Chairman Shamsul Islam, Dhaka University Prof Dr. Hussain Monsur, former Power Cell Director General BD Rahmatullah, former atomic energy commission Chairman Shafiqul Islam also addressed at the conference, titled ‘Energy Sector: Challenges of Adding New Capacity’. Syed Manzur Elahi, a trustee member of CPD chaired the session.

Source: http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2009/03/30/news0376.htm

Date: 30 March 2009, Bangladesh

Posted in Asia Energy, coal, phulbari, Phulbari-news, Power & Energy | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Coal Mining Method: Option for Bangladesh

Posted by phulbarinews on March 23, 2009

Zubayer Zaman

Coal is the world’s most affordable and abundant fossil fuel, contributing to about 41% of electrical power and 26% of primary energy needs of the world.  At current production levels, proven coal reserves are estimated to last around 147 years. In contrast, proven oil and gas reserves are equivalent to around 41 and 63 years respectively (World Coal Institute, 2007). While over 68% of oil and 67% of gas reserves are concentrated in the Middle East and Russia, coal reserves are available in almost every country, with recoverable reserves in around 70 countries, making it most secure energy source than oil and gas. Despite the concerns over global warming for burning fossil fuels, especially coal, its role as dominant fuel is increasing throughout the world. According to World Energy Outlook 2008, world demand for coal advances by 2% a year on average, its share in global energy demand climbing from 26% in 2006 to 29% in 2030. Some 85% of the increase in global coal consumption comes from the power sector in China and India to support their impressive economic growth.

 

Good news for Bangladesh comparing the primary energy sources of its neighbors. The country has good quality bituminous coal with an estimated reserve of 2-3 billion tones in the five discovered coal fields. But the further potential of coal is still to be explored, though the country made the first discovery in 1962 at Jamalganj. Bangladesh has entered into the era of coal mining through the development of Barapukuria underground mine with projected output of 1 million tones per annum for 25-30 years. Detailed geological, geotechnical, social and environmental studies following international standards have been completed for the Phulbari coal field. This two well assessed coal fields jointly share an extractable reserve of about 1 billion tones. Jamalganj coal field with significant resource (>1 billion tones) is so far not considered technically and economically feasible for mining due to the depth (>600m). Other two coal fields, Khalaspir and Dighipara are not systematically assessed and significant efforts will be required to define the mine-able reserve and the method of mining and associated issues.

 

 

The Phulbari coal is mostly embedded in two major seams within the Gondwana basin accounting for almost 90% of the deposit with few other thin seams at different depths. Open pit mining will allow considering all the seams in mine design and thus maximize the recover to around 90-95% with other valuable co-products like kaolin, glass sand, gravels etc from the overburden materials. Experts suggest that the underground mining is not feasible considering the seam thickness, geotechnical conditions, mining conditions and economic returns (as already experienced with the Barapukuria mining). Thickness of the coal seams in underground mining significantly influences the resource recovery and mine safety, specially in a geotechnical conditions like Barapukuria and Phulbari. Barapukuria underground mining is being carried out using longwall mining method and coal is being extracted from seam-VI in slices (each slice around 2.5m). This multi slicing extraction method doesn’t allow recovery of major amount of coal and increases the risk of safety hazards like land subsidence, roof collapse, inundation of water, spontaneous combustion of coal etc as the mining advances. Land subsidence is inevitable in underground mining and Barapukuria mine has been facing the experience of such incidents in its very early stage. The subsidence will be more prominent over the large area following the progress of mining with permanent loss of land and other assets. The highly faulted and fractured nature of the basin might have some links to the land subsidence of Barapukuria and may further play bigger role as mining advances.

                                                                                              

 

The coal resource is overlain by a major regional aquifer, the Upper Dupi Tila sequence. This poses significant technological challenge and environmental risks for mining. The presence of impervious ‘Lower Dupi Tila’ clay layer in the lithologic sequence immediately below the aquifer acts as a barrier to prevent water entering the lower sequences and its thicker presence is very vital for underground mining. This clay layer is relatively thinner and at times absent in the shallower section of the Barapukuria and Phulbari basin and gradually thicker towards deeper section. Therefore, underground mining in the shallower basin increases the risk of water inrushes from the overlying aquifer. The numerous faults and fractures of the basin might create some passage with the overlying aquifer which may open up further with coal extraction and increases the risk of mine flooding. Barapukuria coal mine already had such experience in 1998 that flooded the mine and forced to change the design. There should be a thorough study of the origin of huge amount of mine water which is being pumped out every day to keep the mine dry. If the source is overlying aquifer then there is a significant cause of concern for the mine safety and environment in future.

 

 

On the other hand, open pit mining requires to managing this regional aquifer efficiently to ensure safe working environment and stabilize the pit slope. The environmental and social implications of groundwater extraction need to be managed through ensuring supply of water for irrigation, community and other environmental uses. Fortunately the world mining industry has made significant technological advancement in handling large open pit mining operation at greater depth in complex geological and hydrogeological conditions. Major coal producing countries like India, Australia, USA and Indonesia produce most of their coal from open pit mines. RWE’s Hambach, Inden and Garzweiler mines in Cologne, Germany are the classic example of successful large open pit mining operations. Hambach alone produces 40 million tones of lignite annually at greater depth (>300m) managing huge aquifers (water extraction rate 16,000-17,000 litre/sec) and its social and environmental impacts.

 

 

Bangladesh coal is of good quality but considering other major coal producing countries the reserve is pretty limited- almost equivalent to the annual production of China. Therefore, mining method has to be appropriate to maximize the recovery taking into consideration of geological, hydrogeological reality of the coal fields, and economic viability and energy needs of the country. Underground mining experience at Barapukuria has already demonstrated that coal extraction with this method is not a sustainable solution, and will not meet the required demand for the country. It is uneconomic and will lead to loss of valuable resources of the country. With the present mine design at Barapukuria mine, the resource recovery will be less than 10%, leaving most of coal underground after spending millions of dollars for mine development. The mine which had all the potentiality to become a major energy source for the country is now running uneconomically and struggling to feed only 250MW power plant. Considering the limited reserve and fast growing primary energy market, open pit mining is the most logical option for coal development. An open pit coal mine with an annual output of 10-15 million tones can easily support generation of few thousand megawatts of electricity (approx. 3 million tones/annum of coal may ensure generating 1000 MW). Moreover, current import of 5-6 million tones of low quality, high sulphur coal can be substituted. Coal based briquette industry can be developed to supplement fire wood for domestic cooking and other light industries.

 

 

Open pit and underground, both are well established and well practiced mining methods for extraction of coal. But the choice of mining method depends on basin geology, and economic viability of extraction of the deposit. Social and environmental impacts of mining are also important consideration. Generally open pit mining method is preferred for appropriate geotechnical conditions of a coal deposit as it maximizes the resource recovery and offers better economics, and surplus revenues for environmental and social care related to mine development. Bangladesh already has the experience of underground coal mining. The option for open pit mining should be evaluated at least for one coal field with introduction of state of art technologies and best practice mitigation measures of mining world. Country can’t effort to go for another uneconomic venture like Barapukuria. This will neither ensure the energy security nor protect the interest of the country.

 

Source: http://www.ep-bd.com/news.php?cat_id=9&archive=18&namee=ARTICLE

Date: 01 February 2009, Bangladesh

Posted in Asia Energy, coal, phulbari, Power & Energy | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

“Open Pit Mining Must Start in Phulbari”

Posted by phulbarinews on March 17, 2009

Mollah M Amzad Hossain

Prof. Hossain Mansur of Geology Department of Dhaka University said that appropriate initiative must be taken without delay to explore and exploit coal as alternative fuel to ensure the required power generation in accordance with the election pledge of Awami League. For this, he said, the decision for open pit mining to extract coal from Phulbari is required to be taken on priority basis.

“But to work out the modality, the government must set up a high powered committee now comprising of representatives of Asia Energy, civil society who are opposed to mining at Phulbari and line professionals,” he told the Energy & Power

The EP Editor Mollah Amzad Hossain took the interview of Prof. Hossain Mansur, who is also an ex chairman of Petrobnagla. Following are the excerpts:

EP: What’s your observation about the energy infrastructure development plans or guidelines of Awami League– having proven track record of successfully managing energy sector from 1996-2001– which has returned to state power?

HM: Let us have an objective view of election agenda before making subjective analysis. Possibly this is for the first time since liberation of Bangladesh any political party formally declared well defined short, medium and long term planning for developing energy infrastructure to confront prevailing and emerging energy crisis.

It has been planned to generate additional 5000 MW power in the next 5 years. Generation from different viable alternatives– natural gas, coal, nuclear and renewable source have been envisioned in the plan. Party energy vision till 2021 has also been included there.

Government has spent only about 50 days in state power. There cannot be any doubt about the competence of the persons entrusted to implement the plan. Moreover, Prime Minister herself is monitoring it. But for this the implementing agencies have not been restructured yet. I hope this will be done soon.

Everyone is aware about prevailing crisis of competent professionals in the energy sector. Resolving this crisis is also a major challenge for the new government. Engaging an energy expert as advisor of energy sector during caretaker government was also a right decision.

EP: Do you think the government’s plan to engage an expert committee for this sector will create positive impact?

HM: I think it to be a good initiative of the Prime Minister. Committee formed with real energy experts of the country will definitely bring positive impact.

EP: There are court cases against PM Sheikh Hasina and ex PM Khaleda Zia regarding NIKO–BAPEX joint venture for marginal gas field development. What are your views about it?

HM: Head of the government has prerogative to approve any decision in the greater interest of the country. PMs considered this agreement as beneficial for the country. These cases are purely political.

If there has to be any genuine case of corruption in energy sector that has to be for leasing out Jalalabad gas field. BNP government handed over a discovered gas field to Occidental for a mere 22 million US dollars. But the government now has already purchased 24,000 US$ worth of gas from this field.

EP: Oil Gas & Port Protection Committee claims that there had been major irregularities in Niko agreement. You are associated with their movement. Now you are telling there was no irregularity. Then why you are still with their movement?

HM: Look the committee has several unreasonable demands like opposing offshore exploration; open pit coal mining. Niko is also one such. I don’t agree with the committee on these. It is not possible as an expert to agree with them on these issues.

But I worked with them to resist export of natural gas. I am with them on this. I am trying to make them understand their mistakes.

The left politicians who are staging agitation on oil, gas and port protection know it very well that they will never come to state power. That is why they have taken negative stand on reasonable issues.

EP: Let us again discuss on election pledges of Awami League. Do you think it is possible for the government to realize the pledge?

HM: Look in 1996 when Awami League came to power the government also inherited similar crisis situation in energy sector. Concurrently with expediting ongoing projects government encouraged massive gas exploration initiatives. Moulvibazar gas field was discovered. World Class Bibiyana gas field was also discovered. Sangu offshore gas field was brought into production. BAPEX developed Salda Nadi Gas Field.

On the other hand new power plants were set up after finalizing IPP policy within very short time. Side by side private sector power plants were also set up. For these actions generation increased from effective capacity of 1,500 to 3,000 MW. Consequently first three years of BNP government did not witness any crisis although they failed to set up a new plant during that time.

Now when Awami League led government is again in power the installed capacity of power is 5,450 MW. Some of the aging plants are derated so the real installed capacity is now reduced to 4,950 MW. For ongoing maintenance 680 MW can not be generated. Gas supply crisis also impedes generation of about 500-700 MW. So the available effective generation capacity is now 3,600-3,800 MW. This is not much different to what Awami League government left behind in 2001.

During the last term of Awami League government there was no crisis of gas supply. There was demand supply balance… I mean security of supply in the national gas grid. But now when public and private sectors have plans to set up power plants having capacity of 3,000 MW Petrobangla can not guarantee gas supply to more than 1,000 MW generation. So power generation as per its declared vision is a great challenge for the government. So not only actions for increasing power generation but also actions to source fuel for power are also major challenge. Even a single day must not be wasted in hesitating and sitting on decisions.

In my opinion if the government sincerely intends to realize its election pledge in energy sector it must take decision for offshore exploration in the Bay of Bengal as soon as possible.

On the other hand, appropriate planning needs to be made reviewing the situation whether gas supply will be possible to all planned gas based power plants. If there is uncertainty these must be dual fuel plants.

As a geologist I am optimistic that more gas fields will be discovered in Bangladesh. But natural gas alone can not meet the requirement of power generation. We must diversify fuel option. We need coal. This is our only major viable option. Import of hydro electricity is another option. There is scope for nuclear power generation also. We have to work on renewable power generation. But renewable energy can not be a substitute for fossil fuel based power generation.

Government alone do not have resources or capacity for required power generation. We have to rely on private sector investment from both local and foreign sources. So we must identify areas of energy value chain for foreign direct investment keeping our national interest above everything.

EP: Will you elaborate your opinion on feasibility of alternative fuels other than coal that you have mentioned.

HM: There is very little scope to expand our own hydroelectricity generation. But hydroelectricity import is only possible through regional initiatives. It has to come from Nepal and Bhutan. Both the countries have enormous hydroelectricity generation potential. India is currently importing power from them.

Bangladesh has to take political decision and try to catalyze four nation joint initiative to import hydroelectricity. It is a long term option.

The government has taken some initiative for nuclear power generation. But environmentalists are divided in opinion on nuclear power generation. Government must keep this into consideration also.

EP: You have said that coal is the only feasible option. But we are locked in various debates regarding coal exploration. How exploration can start resolving the current impasse?

HM: Please remember Bangladesh has 2.5 billion tonnes of proven coal reserves. It is possible with available technology to extract at least 1 billion tonne. Exploration from the largest reserve Jamalganj is not commercially viable in traditional method. We are mining coal from Barapukuria by underground method. But due to wrong decision we can only extract about 5 million tonne by 2011. This underground mine will create massive depression and subsidence in the mine area. It can never be restored and rehabilitated. The subsidence process has already commenced. Due to wrong decision it will not be possible to even extract 20-25% coal in place. It will be unwise to set up any new coal fired power plant based on Barapukuria coal.

EP: So you are saying exploration of coal in Barapukuria by underground method is a wrong decision?

HM: Look I am a geologist. Bangladesh geology in the mine area does not support underground mining. If we like to mine commercially it has to be open cut method only for shallow coal mines. Water management is major challenge here. Open pit mining can support recovery of 90% coal in place. In 5-10 years most of the mine area can be restored to original state. Only the final pit about 20% can be converted to a sweet water lake. This will be a massive asset for Bangladesh, a major source of power generation and other use.

It should be mentioned here that 1,400 crore taka has already been spent to develop Barapukuria mine and 1,600 crore taka has been spent to set up mine mouth power plant. But due to inappropriate mining method the investment is under great risk. The property and assets of the people of the region are endangered.

EP: You are telling Bangladesh should follow open pit mining method to explore coal. But, the Oil, Coal and Port Protection Committee is opposed to it.

HM: Look the movement was not against open pit mining. The committee movement was basically due to lack of trust on the then government. Actually it was not mining method rather it was lack of trust on the 4 party alliance government which crystallized the movement.

EP: But it is being told resettlement is a huge problem in case of open pit mining. How do you think about it?

HM: There is international law. Bangladesh also has land acquisition rule. Our neighbour India has extensive experience of open pit mining. In Bangladesh about 3-3.5 lakh people may need to be rehabilitated from mining region for open pit mining for development of all the mines. For a democratic government it may not be a major challenge considering the overall national benefits that availability of huge coal resource and its manifold use would bring about good impacts.

EP: You are suggesting steps to start coal mining must be taken without wasting a day even. How it is possible? Where exploration should start at first?

HM: I believe action to set up coal based power plant installation must start if possible from today. To make coal based power available mining must start at Phulbari first. The reason behind this is that only Phulbari mine is now ready after discovery and other extensive studies.

I also believe that exploration of natural resource will invariably have environmental and social impacts. There will not be any exception here also. But all actions must be taken to mine coal making minimum impact on environment and protecting the rights of affected population.

EP: In that case which company will implement Phulbari Mining? The government has an agreement with Asia Energy.

HM: After signing an agreement there is no scope to disoblige it. It could be more appropriate if an agreement like PSC with provision for cost recovery and exploration-exploitation could be concluded. That would have better protected Bangladesh interest.

On the other hand it has to be decided upon discussion whether Asia Energy or government will carry out open pit mining at Phulabri. But we must keep in mind that extensive government support is a must for mining by Asia Energy or any other company at Phulbari.

EP: Then what you suggest to make the start?

HM: Decision should be taken by the government constituted high powered committee comprising of Asia Energy, agitating civil society representative right now on Phulbari mine development. If necessary the government may seek assistance from Australia, Germany and of India who have vast mining experience. These countries have extensive expertise and experience of coal mining.

Simultaneously the government must finalize the coal policy eliminating provision of coal export. There is no scope to waste time waiting for coal policy anymore.

EP: So are you talking about mining at Khalaspeer and Dighipara also?

HM: Not at all. I have talked about Phulbari only. The alliance government awarded the lease permission to a Bangladeshi-Chinese JV for Khalaspeer without inviting tender. This must be investigated. No initiative should be taken for mining before proper investigation. Petrobnangla has also signed MOU with a Korean Company for mining at Dighipara. It should also be investigated. Without tender no mining lease should be given to anyone anymore.

EP: What are your views on proposed tri-nation gas pipeline and other regional energy cooperation initiatives?

HM: It was a wrong decision for Bangladesh not to proceeding with the tri-nation gas pipeline initiative. Besides, Bangladesh must actively participate in other SAARC, BIMSTEC, Central Asian and Middle Eastern energy ring and grid projects. This must be done in view of our long-term energy security.

Date: 17 March 2009

Source: http://www.ep-bd.com/news.php?cat_id=5&archive=21&namee=INTERVIEW

Posted in Asia Energy, coal, phulbari | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Draft nat’l coal policy awaits advisors’ nod

Posted by phulbarinews on July 7, 2008

M Azizur Rahman

The energy ministry has finalised the national coal policy, which will be sent to the council of advisers soon for their final nod despite opposition from the law ministry against adoption of it, officials said. ‘We have finalised the coal policy and will place it to the council of advisers for approval very soon,’ Chief Adviser’s special assistant on energy issues Professor M Tamim has told the FE.

Refuting the law ministry’s plea to draft an act instead of a policy to facilitate the process of coal extraction, Professor Tamim said a policy is a broader jurisdiction and deals with a variety of issues like environment, land, mines and minerals. Professor Tamim, however, said the law ministry’s comments on the national coal policy would also be sent to the council of advisers along with the policy for their final nod.

Sources said the law ministry last week recommended adoption of an act instead of a policy pouring cold water on the energy ministry’s years of efforts to get a national coal policy in place. The energy ministry kept investment proposals worth several billion US dollars on hold in last several years on the plea that the proposals would be considered after adoption of the country’s first ever-national coal policy.

Regarding the draft of the national coal policy as finalised by the energy ministry, Professor M Tamim said the policy has no major deviations from the recommendations of the advisory committee headed by former BUET vice chancellor Abdul Matin Patwary. The advisory committee in its report recommended that foreign companies be allowed to develop the country’s coalmines under a joint venture with a local coalmining company.

No foreign companies would be permitted to develop a coalmine independently, the draft of the national coal policy pointed out categorically. As is elsewhere in the world, coalmines in Bangladesh can be developed by applying either the open-pit method or the underground method, the advisory committee suggested. But the mining method should be determined on the basis of the geological structure and the reserve potentials, the committee observed.

A Coal Sector Development Committee comprising professionals from all walks should be constituted for smooth operation of coalmines and other relevant activities. The committee would fix the royalty rate of different coalmines considering mine-specific geological structures instead of the existing mining rules, in which the royalty rate has been fixed at 6.0 per cent for the open-pit mining and 5 per cent for underground mining, it said. The committee also recommended awarding licences for coal exploration from any coalmine through open tenders, though the existing rules say that the licences will be awarded on the first-come-first-served basis.

The government will follow the country’s existing Land Acquisition Act to acquire required land and compensate the displaced people from the mining sites to ensure smooth development of coalmines and its subsequent utilisation, officials said. To address the environmental and social issues, the government might adopt globally-accepted guidelines of ‘equity principles,’ the draft of the national coal policy pointed out. Khani Bangla, an entity under the state-owned Petrobangla, would be given the responsibility to look into the developments relating to coal and other issues relevant to the country’s mines and minerals.

The advisory committee, however, had proposed formation of a separate company named ‘Coal Bangla’ empowering it to monitor the coalmine development activities. There will be no option of coal export other than ‘cocking coal’ in the coal policy. Cocking coal is a kind of coal, especially used in steel manufacturing plants. Setting up a coal-fired power plant at the mine mouth might be made mandatory for developing any coalmine under the national coal policy.

Source: http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.info/search_index.php?page=detail_news&news_id=38966

Date: 07 July 2008, Bangladesh

Posted in coal, phulbari | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Core Library- A Wealth of Information

Posted by phulbarinews on June 24, 2008

Zubayer Zaman

Energy and mineral resources exploration is a multi-disciplinary involvement- a venture of millions of dollars. This starts with searching for indications of minerals, large scale and detailed mapping aided by interpretative analysis of remotely sensed and aero geophysical data, followed by ground geophysical survey, geochemical prospecting and understand the subsurface geology through pitting, trenching and finally by drilling. Drilling gives final confirmation- discovery of a resource. Drilling gives both undisturbed cores and disturbed flushed cuttings. These samples especially the core samples are an important scientific and economic resource. But collecting cores is expensive and once collected has to be cataloged and stored properly. Preservation of this valuable geological information is very important for future reference and research. It may help in reassessing the old investigations in the light of advanced scientific knowledge and superior analytical facilities. It may also help in planning future investigations and R & D programs. A modern core repository will make this valuable information something permanent, that would otherwise be lost and would never be recollected again. 

Establishment of core library for safe preservation of geological core samples is a well practiced method and getting importance worldwide. Even private oil, gas and mining companies along with the government initiatives are contributing to ensure proper preservation of this valuable information. In February 2007, Chevron Corporation donated $ 1.5 million, along with 1,500 tonnes of material collected over 60 years in 120 countries, to the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences to ensure their safekeeping, enhances it the largest publicly available collection of geological cores and cutting in the world. Geological Survey of India has realized the importance of preservation of valuable core samples and modern core libraries are being developed at Bhubaneswar, Nagpur, Lucknow, Shillong, Hydrabad, and Joypur. 

But Bangladesh is still to realize the importance of a modern core library as a repository of geological information. The history of oil, gas industry is more than 50 years but there is no modern core library for preservation of these valuable cores. And whatever the preservation system is these are not easily accessible to geologists, students, researchers. The development of Barapukuria underground coalmine and Maddhyapara Hardrock mine have produced a significant amount of core samples. But the preservation and management of these cores are very poor. Wooden boxes core trays are stacked on each other making the access/retrieval difficult for any interested students, geologists and researchers. Sometimes the environment is not even safe, poor management makes the condition something like a safe den for snakes, and other animals. 

Phulbari coal field is being intensively explored by Asia Energy. The company during its detailed feasibility study drilled more than 100 boreholes to define the resource and collect other geological, geotechnical, hydrogeological information. This resource definition process produced huge core samples and flush cuttings. Realizing the importance of these samples for future reference, geological research, the company developed a well-organized, world-class core library for safe and systematic preservation of the samples in its Phulbari core yard. The core samples of the boreholes were preserved in GI boxes stacked in steel racks in permanent core shed. Entire core/flushed cuttings of one representative borehole drilled especially for display purposes was also preserved. The core trays were arranged in so orderly manner that it was possible to locate and retrieve any core of a particular depth of a borehole quickly. This core shed was a popular destination of visitors, geologists, university graduates and researchers. 

Unfortunately, that valuable geological information was destroyed deliberately during and after the 26 August incident. We became witness with horror of the destruction of the core samples in the electronic media by the angry mob knowing nothing what destruction they have done without any intervention of law enforcing agencies. Recollection of such a large volume of core samples and systematic preservation is not only a matter of huge investment but also practically impossible. The wealth of geological information that could be used for future mine development study, research and reference are being destroyed by the angry mob most likely was instigated and guided by the people who don’t want to see the development of coal sector in Bangladesh. The people who led the mob behind to destroy the core samples were very calculative in their act and became successful to materialize their dreams but that mindless destruction has deprived the nation from the service of valuable geological information. But by committing such mindless activities the nation suffered from the huge losses of information treasures. Our nation does not deserve it. 
 

 

Source: http://www.ep-bd.com/archive/19th-issuee_08/index.html

Date: 16-31 March 2008, Bangladesh

Posted in Asia Energy, phulbari, Phulbari-news | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sustainable Energy & Environment in Bangladesh

Posted by phulbarinews on June 24, 2008

Malek Mukul: Now a days, energy becomes a burning issue in Bangladesh. Actually, nobody can understand the importance of any common issue without facing crisis of it. Now it needs not to inform anyone about power crisis and everyone realize  that energy can affects all aspects of development i.e. social, economic and environmental including livelihoods, access to water supply, agricultural activities etc. of a country. No development can be met without improvement in quality & quantity of energy facilities in any developed or developing countries.

 

We know that the United States has the world largest economy & has about 6% of world’s population, but consumes more than 30% of world’s energy. India, on the other hand, has 15% of world population and consumes 1% of world’s energy. So, there is no debate that energy is the key for sustainable development of a nation. Therefore, a tremendous improvement in energy sector is mandatory for overall development of the country. Without energy, the country will become a car without wheels.

 

Literally, energy can be defined as the ability to do work. Without energy none can do a little. That’s why energy is closely related with development. Bangladesh still remains as an agrarian country. But its cultivable land is decreasing gradually because of its fast population growth. Average 220 ha of agricultural land is going to non-agricultural use everyday. Due to its fast population growth the land is used for urban development, industrialization, roads & high way construction. Therefore, there is no other choice to shift from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. Consequently, to be a country of industrial economy, power generation has to be increased taken as the top priority compared to other important developments of the country.

 

Bangladesh is the most densely populated agricultural country in the world and falls among the lowest per capita energy users. However, the demand for energy in the country is already growing at a rate of 10% annually and how the demand will be met is influenced by govt. policies. It is not that the country is not able to meet the energy demand. There are large reserves of natural gas & coal in the country. But due to mismanagement and lack of policy, the resources couldn’t use properly. There is constrained to make policy due to environmental barriers. But we should remember that the technology has modernized and could help us to overcome the environmental barriers. Let’s discuss for sustainable energy & environment in Bangladesh.

 

Energy

 

There are two types of energy-potential & kinetic and some different forms. As we know ‘energy can’t be lost’, it being transform from one to another. All forms of energy are stored in different ways in the energy sources that we use everyday. These resources are also divided into two groups-Renewable energy sources (an energy source that can be replenished in a short period of time) solar energy, wind, geothermal energy, biomass from plant, hydropower & ocean energy and Non-renewable energy sources (an energy source that we are using up and cannot recreate in short period of time) oil, natural gas & coal; they’re also called fossil fuel. Another nonrenewable energy source is the element; Uranium, whose atoms split through a process called nuclear fission to create heat and ultimately electricity.

 

All the renewable and nonrenewable energy sources can be used to produce secondary energy source i.e. electricity which we use & is the pre-requisite for our national development.

 

There is least opportunity to boost our energy sector by renewable energy sources. Because the solar energy is still expensive, the strength of wind varies seasonally, lack of geothermal energy in the country, biomass is harmful for environment and there are little suitable places in the country to set up hydro-plant etc. Therefore, we have to use our reserve nonrenewable energy sources to boost the improvement of the country’s energy sector.

 

Among the nonrenewable energy sources in the country maximum (most of all) electricity is generated using natural gas. But recently, it is predicted that the natural gas could met demand of energy of the country up to 2012 if no new gas field will discover. But still the country steps far from use of discovered coal reserve. There are five discovered coal basins which cumulatively reserve is about 2.7 billion tonnes equivalent to about 53 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF) of natural gas. So, this is the one and only energy source which can contribute country’s sustainable energy demand. Therefore, without any hesitation the govt. should take initiatives to start coal extraction immediately and should use the coal resources to generate power for sustainable industrial development of the country.

 

The energy demand of the country is growing at a rate of 10% per year. In this growing demand, the country will need 9,000-10,000MW of power by 2013 when the natural gas will be finished. Then for sustainable supply of power in the country, we may completely depend on coal as an energy source. In this situation we can make a simple & rough calculation that approximately how much coal will be required to generate 9,000-10,000MW power. If we consider, whole power will be generated using coal, then…

 

Electricity (MW)

Required coal for electricity generation in the year of 2013

Per day (tonnes)

Per Month

Per Year

(tonnes)

Million tonnes (Mt)

(tonnes)

Million tonnes (Mt)

250

2500

75000

0.075

900000

0.9

1000

10000

300000

0.3

3600000

3.6

2000

20000

600000

0.6

7200000

7.2

3000

30000

900000

0.9

10800000

10.8

4000

40000

1200000

1.2

14400000

14.4

5000

50000

1500000

1.5

18000000

18

6000

60000

1800000

1.8

21600000

21.6

7000

70000

2100000

2.1

25200000

25.2

8000

80000

2400000

2.4

28800000

28.8

9000

90000

2700000

2.7

32400000

32.4

10000

100000

3000000

3

36000000

36

 

About 36 Mt of coal will be required to generate 10,000MW of coal in 2013. But depending on the quality of coal it may varies. If we assume that 0.7 Mt of coal needs to generate 250MW power per year then it will be about 28 Mt. It can also said that about 14-18 Mt of coal will be required per year if produce half of the total demand of energy in the country. Then we should start development of coal basin from just now so that coal can be produced by 2012. But there is environmental constrained to develop coal basin and global energy system has to faces many challenges in this century. Though the world has already entered in the coal era many years ago, the environmental laws & modern technologies have greatly reduced coal’s impact on the environment.

Environment

 

Coal, like all other sources of energy has a number of environmental impacts, from both coal mining and coal use. Without proper care, mining can destroy land and pollute water & air. Coal mining-particularly surface mining requires large areas of land to be temporarily disturbed. This can also raises a number of environmental challenges including soil erosion, dust, noise & impacts on local biodiversity and above all rehabilitation. But mining is only a temporary use of land and is not a big problem now, because steps are taken in modern mining operation to minimize all these impacts. Today, restoring the land damaged by surface mining is an important part of mining operation. Because mining activities often come into contact with water resources, for which coal producers must go to great efforts to prevent damage to ground and surface water.

 

The water pollution can prevent installing a water treatment plant where pollute water is first dosed with lime to neutralize the acid and then passed through setting tanks to remove sediment and particulate metals. Dust levels can be controlled by spraying water continuously on road, stockpiles and conveyors. Other steps can also be taken, including fitting drills with dust collection systems and purchasing additional land surrounding the mine to act as a buffer zone. Reclamation is another important activity for surface mining. Mine reclamation is undertaken gradually-with shaping and contouring of spoil piles, replacement of topsoil, seeding with grasses and planting of trees on the mined out areas. So technological innovation can allow to meet the demand of coal without an unacceptable environmental impact. The wider deployments of clean coal technologies have a significant impact on environmental performance of coal in both developed and developing countries.

 

The use of coal whether to generate power or use in steel or in any other manufacturing industries creates some environmental hazards. The primary environmental issues relating to the use of coal are:-particulate emissions, trace elements, oxides of nitrogen & sulfur, waste/by-product and CO2. The modern technologies could reduce most of all impacts on environment and most of the technologies are developed many years ago, commercialized and widely applied in many developed countries. All these technologies are well practiced through-out the world including USA, Australia, Germany, South Africa etc. The technological responses are:-

 

·      Electrostatic precipitators and fabric filters control particulate emissions from coal-fired power stations. Both have removal efficiencies of over 99.5%

·      Particulate control devices, fluidized bed combustion, activated carbon injection and desulphurization equipment can all significantly reduce trace element emissions.

·      Oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions can be cut by the use of specialized burners, advanced combustion methods, catalysts and ‘selective non-catalytic reduction’.  Over 90% of NOx emissions can be removed using existing techniques.

·      Technologies are available to minimize oxides of sulfur (SOx) emissions by removing the gas from the waste stream or by using advanced power generation methods. Emissions can be reduced by over 90%.

·      Waste can be minimized before (by coal cleaning) and during (using high efficiency systems) coal combustion.  Residual waste can be reprocessed into construction materials.

·      In the short to medium term, substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be made by increasing the efficiency of coal-fired generation.

·      Near zero emissions technologies enable the separation and capture of CO2 from coal-fired power generation for permanent and safe storage underground.

In Bangladesh, after natural gas, coal will continue to play a vital role in electricity generation. The discovered reserve of coal in the country is about 2.7 billion tonnes equivalent approximately 53 TCF natural gas which able to provide secure and reliable supplies of affordable energy to boost the country’s sustainable development and to shift the country from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. The clean coal technologies have already achieved major advances in environmental performance and new technologies are under development towards a ‘zero emission’ future.

 

Recently, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has allowed Bangladesh to set up nuclear reactor for power generation. It is good as well as very danger news for Bangladesh. Because it’s a big challenge for Bangladesh to invest in such type of risky sector, its require billions of dollar to set up a nuclear reactor and also require experienced work forces to operate & maintenance which is limited in this country. Moreover, as a densely populated country, a nuclear accident will be a catastrophe of epic proportions in Bangladesh.

 

Therefore, it is suitable for Bangladesh to extract its coal resources immediately and use in power generation so that the country could meet the energy demand and boost its industrial development. Because, for sustainable development, a nation need continuous/smooth supply of energy through-out the country. And Bangladesh can easily go for the development of coal basins under blessing of modern technologies in mining sector.

 

 

Source : The Weekly Economic Times, 29 July 2007

 

Posted in phulbari | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dewatering in Open Pit Mining: Concern or Benefit?

Posted by phulbarinews on June 24, 2008

Zubayer Zaman

Bangladesh has significant amount of good quality bituminous coal resources and has the potential to provide long-term sustainable solution for the alternative energy source, which the country is seeking desperately. So far, five coalfields have been discovered with an estimated reserve of about 2,500-3,000 million tonnes. Only Barapukuria and Phulbari coalfields have confidently estimated the coal reserves of some 1,000 million tonnes reserves for the others are inferred only from limited number of boreholes. Bangladesh entered the mining era relatively recently through development of the Barapukuria underground coalmine. However, coal mining has a very long history and importance in terms of world development. While other coalfields remain at the early exploration stage the Phulbari coal basin has been extensively explored and a scheme of development has been submitted to the Government for Phulbari Coal Project. Based on an extensive analysis of environmental and social issues, depth and thickness of the coal deposit, and the nature of the water bearing aquifer overlying the coal, it was concluded that open pit mining was safest, most reliable and most economic way to extract the coal and to ensure abundant affordable coal for the Bangladesh market. 

With the proven gas reserve of the Country being quoted by the Government as being 8.93 TCF, enough for only another 6 years, there is in urgent need to source alternative energy and the proven coal reserve of Phulbari is the only really immediate hope for the country to get access to a new energy source that can be used for significant power generation. 

There are debates over mining methods and also a growing concern for groundwater dewatering impacts for open pit mining method as groundwater is required to be extracted extensively during the mining operation. Is this really a problem or rather an opportunity to gain access to good quality water? Are there any mitigation measures? What are the practices in other open pit mines in the world? Are those measures are suitable for our geological conditions?

Groundwater management is a critical issue for the successful operation of any open pit mine. It is a challenge for underground mining also. The water level needs to be lowered as the floor of the mine is dug deeper to maintain dry and safe working condition. Bangladesh should take comfort in the fact that there is plenty of international experience with groundwater management built up from hundreds of open pit mines in the world operating that are successfully managing groundwater under a wide variety of climatic and geologic complexities.

Hydrogeology of the north-western region

The hydro-geological conditions of the coalfields will play an important role in mine planning and design. As shown in the Conceptual Hydrological Model for the Phulbari coal basin, there are three aquifer systems in the regional setting: Upper Dupi Tila sand unit (UDT), sand layers near the base of the Lower Dupi Tila (LDTs) and fractured coal sequence. The Madhupur clay, Lower Dupi Tila clay and the Upper and Lower Gondwana sequence are considered as impervious layers or aquitards. The flow direction in all aquifers is inferred from north to south direction. 

Conceptual hydro-geological model for the Phulbari coal basin

Upper Dupi Tila aquifer is the principal aquifer in the region. It is high yielding, porous, very permeable and regionally extensive unconfined to semi-confined aquifer. The aquifer is approximately 100m thick with groundwater levels varying seasonally from 2 to 9m. The UDT is primarily recharged through rivers and streams that have cut through the impervious Madhupur clay which restricts recharge to this aquifer. In fact it is the Madhupur clay that plays host for agriculture and forests and for most of the year water to support these activities comes from direct rainfall and inherent soil moisture and not from the aquifer. The aquifer is routinely tapped to supply clean water supply for households and for irrigation water during the dry season. Although this UDT aquifer will require dewatering for open pit mining, the actual area affected can be restricted to a few kilometers from the mine by injecting some of the water back into the aquifer. 

Pumping the groundwater from the aquifer to permit mining actually becomes a benefit for the community because the water is of high quality and could be used for reticulated village and town water supply and piped to nearby farmers for irrigation. At the same time some water could be released to rivers and wetlands to generally improve the environment. Incidentally the water in the Phulbari coal basin area has been tested and key parameters were found to be well within the acceptable limit for drinking water, eg; it has low salinity, neutral pH and low turbidity, and arsenic very low and generally less than the detection limit. 

Why mine dewatering?

The groundwater level must be pulled down to create dry conditions in the mining area so that the generally low strength aquifer sequence materials (sands, gravel and clays) can be safely excavated. Mine dewatering is usually undertaken for a variety of geo-technical (material strength considerations), mining and safety reasons:

Geo-technical Issues

• Increased material strength;
• Reduction in seepage forces;
• Decreased hydrostatic pressure;
• Reduce chance of piping failure;
• Increased wall and bench stability;
• Reduced weight of porous rocks; and
• Prevention of liquefaction.

Mine Production Considerations 

• Reduced drilling and blasting costs;
• Reduced wear on equipment;
• Reduced haulage costs for unsaturated material;
• Reduced corrosion of equipment; and
• Improved trafficability.

Safety Issues 

• Improved road conditions;
• Reduced risk of slope instability during and after excavation; and
• Reduced risk of water inrushes.

Mine dewatering can be achieved by pumping continuously from a ring of dewatering tube wells around the mine and on benches, and installing pumps in special sumps on the mine floor to remove any surface water. This is a well-proven way to maintain dry working conditions, prevent flooding and ensuring the stability of the mine walls and mine haulage road pavements. 

Dewatering impacts and mitigation measures 

Pumping to lower the groundwater level in an open pit mine in the Bangladesh situation will over the life of the mine produce an abundance of good quality water. If all of this water was simply discharged into rivers and streams, then nearby households and villages would have difficulty accessing water through shallow tube wells for drinking and irrigation. In fact the water pumped from the aquifer is of great benefit for the community and there is a range of well proven mitigation measures that could ensure the area affected by the water level lowering is restricted to a few kilometers from the mine area and that adequate water is delivered through pipes to the town and farming communities.

Aquifer injection to restrict area of water level lowering

Aquifer injection is a well-tested method to limit the area of water level draw-down. This involves injecting water from the dewatering operation into the aquifer at a certain distance (around 5 km) from the mine to hydro-logically isolate the mine dewatering area from the regional aquifer. Experience shows up to 30% of water from the mine dewatering operation can be injected into the aquifer with this system. Certain geological and hydro-geological criteria are required for successful operation of the injection system:

• A really extensive, thick, sedimentary sequence
• The target aquifer preferably overlain by a confining layer; and
• A simple geological structure

The overlying UDT layer of the coal bearing sequence of Bangladesh is much thicker and extensive throughout the region and suitable for such operation.

RWE Mine of Cologne Germany has been successfully using this method for many decades under Germany’s strict environmental rules and regulation, in the same geological and groundwater conditions to Bangladesh. RWE has been conducting its operation for last 50 years and currently produces more than 100 million tones/year of low quality lignite coal, which contributes 30% of Germany’s total power generation. The RWE’s mining experience is a demonstration that the aquifer injection technique can be used successfully in Bangladesh to minimize the impacts of water level lowering. It is known that Asia Energy Corporation has proposed this technique in the Phulbari Coal Project and is planning to involve RWE expertise to assist in its implementation. 

Water supply for irrigation and domestic uses and monitoring

Groundwater is the major source of irrigation water during the dry season and a substantial number of shallow tubewells used for irrigation purposes will not be functional within the influence area of dewatering operation. Availability of water must be ensured so that lowering of water layer doesn’t hamper the crop production. There will be an abundance of water from the mine dewatering operation and certain portion of it could be delivered to the farmers by large diameter pipelines and trenches/canal and if required in some areas deep tube wells can be installed to ensure the supply of water. Farmers have been affected by recent increasing fuel cost and shortage of electrical power, both making crop production and life in general difficult. Having a reliable supply of water throughout the year from the mine area will allow farmers to reliably produce three crops a year and will thus both increase crop production and reduce the production cost.

Groundwater is also the primary source of drinking water to the rural villages and township and safe drinking water must be ensured to the affected households. A reticulated water supply system could be developed to supply a portion of water from the mine dewatering operation to the affected households. Deep tube wells can be installed in isolated villages far off from the mine operation area to source water for reticulated water supply system. This will improve the water supply quality to the affected rural households.

Water may also need to discharge to surrounding water bodies from the dewatering operation to maintain current seasonal water levels and quality. Any surface water pumped from the floor of the mine must be treated to ensure it meets national water quality standards before releasing to the neighboring environment. A comprehensive monitoring system could be developed to monitor the impacts of dewatering, aquifer injection performance, water chemistry etc and appropriate mitigation measures to be implemented to rectify the impacts.

Bangladesh desperately needs alternative energy source and coal is the only source to meet the long-term energy demand of the country. But maximum extraction of this valuable resource must be ensured and Barapukuria experience suggests that underground method is not viable option for the coal deposits in this country. Open pit mining can ensure >90% extraction of the coal resource and impacts related to this type of operation can be mitigated using well-tested internationally practiced mitigation measures. To eliminate the concern of the people, an independent monitoring system can be developed with data reviewed by some of Bangladesh’s renowned hydro-geologists to ensure the impacts of water level lowering are being managed and the benefits of the abundant water supply are being delivered.

 

Source: http://www.ep-bd.com/archive/2nd-issue_07/index.html

Date: 1-15 July 2007, Bangladesh

Posted in Asia Energy, phulbari | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Geologic condition of coal basin & extraction debate

Posted by phulbarinews on June 24, 2008

Malek Mukul

When all the rational people of Bangladesh appreciated that coal is the most potential alternative energy source, then govt. couldn’t finalize the coal policy on the debate of extraction method, royalty rate, export provision, environmental hazard, resettlement, rehabilitation and energy security. The energy adviser said on 27 May 2007 in a roundtable on power sector reforms in Bangladesh, organized by the Asian Development Bank that the alternative energy source of this country is coal, so we have to take quick decision about coal extraction otherwise we can’t meet energy crisis. It’s true that if the policy makers make delay to start coal extraction then the candle economy is waiting for the nation.

Many people of our country have said that coal can’t be extracted by open pit mining method from the northern region of the country. On the other hand, we have obtained the bitter experience from the sole underground coal mine of the country at B’pukuria. Actually, geology can guide and help to reach a sound solution of this contradiction.

Geology is such a tool which can inform about the position of mineral resources in the ground. It can also focus the picture of the resources and overlying material those have to penetrate or dig out to reach the resources. In this regard, lets discuses about the stratigraphic setting of northern region of Bangladesh. Bangladesh contains thick sediment up to 20km in the southern part and shallowest 114m in northern part of Bangladesh sequences of Permian to Holocene and major part of the sediment is deposited by the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river systems during Miocene to Holocene time. The coal is overlying by Younger Permian Sandstone in the coal basin of this region. Sequentially, from coal to surface the sediments are:-Coal, Permian Sandstone, Lower Dupi Tila Sand, Lower Dupi Tila Clay, Upper Dupi Tila Sand and Madhupur Clay.

The coal is overlying by thin younger sediments which are deposited by Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river systems. Moreover the Permian Sandstone is moderately fractured and jointed and above this formation the Dupi Tila is known as water bearing zone i.e. aquifer. Therefore, it is clear that the geologic condition of this area do not support the underground mining method. Because, for underground mining, the mine void needs a strong roof rock for support. To support the overburden (volume weight), mine require primary and secondary roof rock which are almost absent in the coal basin. But the only roof rock which is very thin indeed and has moderately low in strength.

Strength is the factor of a rock/material which can protect any applied stress on it. Though the Permian Sandstone has low strength then it couldn’t able to sustain the overburden stress/pressure. Moreover, the thick water bearing zone i.e. Dupi Tila Formation will be more deteriorated for an underground mine in this area. Because water increase volume-weight of a Formation.

Therefore, underground mining will be dangerous one in this area though-
– the coal is located at shallow depth (160-250m)
– almost absence of roof rock
– rocks are moderately fractured and jointed
– thick water bearing zone etc.

Tectonically, the area lies in the Stable Platform or Rangpur Saddle (Indian Platform) which is characterized by many faults. Some of these are pre-Gondwana, while the other faults are formed by later tectonic activities. During the Permo-Carboniferous time the rocks were heavily fracture and block faulted due to crustal shortening, movement and collision of plates. Faulting, fracturing, local or regional upliftment and subsidence have affected the coal basins of this area. Therefore, the underground mine can also be affected by later tectonic activities. Though mining industries are well practiced in artificial roof support in underground mine throughout the world now, but artificial roof support will not adequate in the coal mine of northern region of the country. Because, the coal is located at shallow depth and is overlying by the water bearing zone. Moreover, if later tectonic activities are taken place due to later Himalayan upliftment or orogenic movement then most of the mines in northern region of the country may subside or sudden collapse will be happened.

Apart from this discussion, the poor country like Bangladesh should consider the cost benefit effect before entering in the mining era. From this point of view we should extract our optimum resources. Feasibility of any resources depend on it production cost and production cost is directly reciprocal to the extract percentage. In this regard everyone knows that which method allow optimum extraction. Actually, production cost is one of the important factors to become B’pukuria coal mine as a loss project. Therefore, there should no debate about mining method in coal extraction from the coal basin of northern region of Bangladesh.

It can’t ignore that in open pit mining method there are some impacts on environment and in social life. Such as hydrological & hydro-geological problem, air pollution, land degradation, noise, agricultural disturbance and relocation of people. Geology can also guide how to minimize and could possible to bring in tolerable limit of the environmental hazards. On the other hand, the social impact can be solved providing actual compensation for properties and life. In this regard the govt. should strongly monitor all the mitigation measures and compensation program.

Source: The Weekly Economic Times, 01 July 2007, Bangladesh

Posted in Asia Energy, coal, phulbari | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »