Coal News of Phulbari – Bangladesh

News on coal resources & coal basins of Bangladesh

Government favours open pit coal mining

Posted by phulbarinews on November 2, 2009

AKRAM TALUKDER, DINAJPUR

Despite  strong opposition by a section of  local people  the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Planning Ministry yesterday advocated  open pit coal mining  system at Barapukuria in Dinajpur. While exchanging views  with  some local people at the  office of the Barapukuria  coal mining site, Chairman of the Standing Committee Col (Retd) Oli Ahmed   explained the reasons in favour of open pit coal mining.

Members of the standing committee-Shafiqul Islam, Dr Azizul Haque Chowdhury, Hamida Banu Shova and Col (Retd) Nazrul Islam were also present during the meeting. Col Oli said extraction of 90 per cent of coal   will be  possible under the open pit system  as against  30 per cent  under ground system.

“Houses will collapse and the areas will become unlivable if coal is extracted in under ground system. But extraction of coal under  open pit system  will be environment friendly,”  Oli Ahmed claimed. A section of people is against the open pit, said Oli adding, “these people are acting as  brokers by taking money from foreign companies. They are serving  the interest of  foreign countries  to deprive us of  our own resources”.

He said Bangladesh will not  have to  import coal for the next one thousand years  if coal is extracted under open pit system. “The government will ensure appropriate compensation including rehabilitation of the affected people and their lands. The government will never do anything against the interest of the people,” Col Oli  assured. Mahfuzur Rahman, president of Hamidpur Union Awami League (AL) opposed the parliamentary committee’s opinion and said, “We don’t  want to go anywhere from our ancestral homes by leaving  the  graves of  our  forefathers .” 

We don’t need any facilities in exchange  for lands and homes for coal mining under open pit system,   he further said. Shabuddin, a social worker, said it will seriously affect the environment if coal is extracted under  open pit system instead of under ground mining.

Source: http://www.theindependent-bd.com/archive.details.php?nd=2009-10-20&nid=146596

Date: 20 October 2009, Bangladesh

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Vast energy sources remain untapped, says FICCI-Power crisis blamed on indecision

Posted by phulbarinews on November 2, 2009

FE Report

news_image_2009-10-19_7551Foreign investors continue to grumble over the country’s perennial energy crisis and demand uninterrupted electricity and gas supply to boost industrial growth. They said the country has significant energy sources, most of which remained unexplored due to indecision leading to the acute energy crisis.

“The country is not poor but poorly managed,” said the President of Foreign Investors’ Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) Waliur Rahman Bhuiyan at the chamber’s luncheon meeting at a city hotel Sunday. State Minister for Energy and Power Muhammad Enamul Huq was guest of honour at the function, which was also addressed by FICCI Vice President Steven N Wilson.

Pointing to the country’s energy supply crunch and its impact on the economy the FICCI president said the country’s industrial units especially the export oriented ones were bearing the burnt of the crisis as production had being badly hurt. “Some entrepreneurs have set up captive power units to have energy supply of their own,” the FICCI president said and added, “Those plants are also not working properly due to low gas pressure.”

“We have been demanding constant and sufficient energy supply over the past several years but to no effect,” Mr Bhuiyan added. The state minister assured the overseas investors of mitigating their energy problem with the implementation of, what he said, the government undertaken short, medium and long-term measures along with fast-track projects. “Improving power and energy sector is one of the major government pledges which will be executed in the current tenure,” said Mr Huq.

The government has already taken initiative to develop the energy sector, he assured. Some 752 megawatts (MW) of additional electricity supply would be added to the national grid by December 2009, some 1360 MW by 2012 and 1445 MW more by 2013-2014. He said the government has introduced daylight saving time, began distribution of compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs free of cost to ensure efficient energy use.

The government is also working seriously for setting up of nuclear and coal-based thermal power plants and augmenting renewable energy use to diversify the fuel sources for energy, the state minister said. The country is now reeling from an acute energy crisis with the power supply hovering around 3,700 MW against the peak hour demand for 5,500 MW, while the natural gas supply is around 1980 million cubic feet (mmcf) daily against the daily demand for over 2200mmcf.

“Bangladesh’s energy sector still remains unexplored to a great extent,” said the FICCI vice president. The country has been under a moratorium on exploration of energy sources, said Mr Wilson, who is also the President of Chevron Bangladesh.

Source: http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2009/10/19/81947.html

Date: 19 October 2009, Bangladesh

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Minister signals green after visiting German open-pit coal mining

Posted by phulbarinews on November 1, 2009

Special Correspondent

The government on Monday requested Germany to assist Bangladesh to extract coal by the open-pit mining method. The commerce minister, Faruk Khan, called upon the German ambassador, Holger Michael, to provide some expert advice as the government is still in doubt about the possible impact of open-pit mining on the environment.

Holger met Faruk at his secretariat office and discussed investment in the renewable energy sector and dredging to deepen the rivers and increase their navigability. ‘We are examining the pros and cons of open-pit mining in the country which is densely populated and suffers from scarcity of land,’ Faruk Khan reportedly told Holger. Holger said that the German government would provide all technological and investment support to Bangladesh through the GTZ, the German technical agency.

From the very beginning of Awamileague government, a move regarding this, has been underway to use the open-pit mining system in the country, and the UK-based company, Asia Energy, has demanded to get permission to use the open-pit mining system at Phulbari coal field in Dinajpur.

State minister for environment Hasan Mahmud visited Germany on September 6-9, reportedly to acquire some knowledge of open-pit mining and coal-based power plants. An official of the environment ministry, who had accompanied the minister, told reporters on Monday that the minister’s visit was arranged by the GTZ and they had visited many coal-mines and power plants including that of German company RWE.

The official said that after Hasan Mahmud’s visit, he submitted a report to the government saying that they had seen nothing wrong in open-pit mining in Germany and that it was successfully generating electricity from coal. ‘We have collected still pictures, videos and other materials in favour of open-pit mining. We have seen that Germany was doing a tremendous job in operating open-pit mines. The RWE is producing around 7,000MW of electricity from the coal from two mines. We have seen nothing wrong with open-pit mining, but some people in Bangladesh are against the system as they do not want the development of the country,’ said official of the environment ministry.

The energy ministry last month recommended that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina allow open-pit mining at Barapukuria coal-field, and she told the ministry to carry out a detailed study and present the findings to her after which she will decide what to do.

Source: http://weeklyeconomictimes.com/news-details.php?recordID=4492

Date: 18 October 2009, Bangladesh

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Coal less costly power source, says Mohammad Enamul Haque

Posted by phulbarinews on November 1, 2009

R.Akter

The State Minister for Power and Energy Mohammad Enamul Haque said recently in generation of electricity from diesel and furnace oil is very costly. He termed coal as the only option for generating electricity at low costs and emphasised the need for its immediate extraction. Power generation has reached a point where the economy is seriously hampered for shortage of electricity by about 1,500 megawatts.

He said, production falters in many industries where gas is either a fuel or a raw material or both. Gas supply to some sectors has to be suspended to meet demands of others. The crisis is such that some big investment proposals for gas-based industries have been deferred for at least three years. This happens due to short supply of natural gas that fuels about 80 percent of power generation. The existing recoverable gas reserve is estimated to last a few years.

Against this backdrop, coal can be the best option for power generation. Solar, wind and nuclear energies are the other options but those would take longer time to harness in bulk. The country has a proven reserve of 2,086 million tonnes of quality coal, which is equivalent to about 19 TCF of natural gas. According to experts, this coal is enough to generate 5,000mw of electricity for up to 90 years. The local coal is safer as it contains less sulphur and carbon than the imported coal. It will also save about US$500 million that Bangladesh spends annually to import this fossil fuel. Bangladesh should therefore go for quickest possible extraction of the coal resource in a cost effective and environment-friendly way. Coal is still the source of world’s 30 percent energy. But a day may come soon when use of coal might be discouraged as part of global action to reduce greenhouse gas emission.

Surce: http://weeklyeconomictimes.com/news-details.php?recordID=4493

Date: 18 October 2009, Bangladesh

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Now coal is the answer

Posted by phulbarinews on November 1, 2009

Editor

The State Minister for Power and Energy has said generation of electricity from diesel and furnace oil is very costly. He termed coal the only option for generating electricity at low costs and emphasised the need for its immediate extraction. Power generation has reached a point where the economy is seriously hampered for shortage of electricity by about 1,500 megawatts. Actually, production falters in many industries where gas is either a fuel or a raw material or both. Gas supply to some sectors has to be suspended to meet demands of others. The crisis is such that some big investment proposals for gas-based industries have been deferred for at least three years. This happens due to short supply of natural gas that fuels about 80 percent of power generation. The existing recoverable gas reserve is estimated to last a few years.

Against this backdrop, coal can be the best option for power generation. Solar, wind and nuclear energies are the other options but those would take longer time to harness in bulk. The country has a proven reserve of 2,086 million tonnes of quality coal, which is equivalent to about 19tcf of natural gas. According to experts, the coal is enough to generate 5,000mw of electricity for up to 90 years. The local coal is safer as it contains less sulphur and carbon than the imported coal. It will also save about US$500 million that Bangladesh spends annually to import this fossil fuel. Bangladesh should therefore go for quickest possible extraction of the coal resource in a cost effective and environment-friendly way.

Source: http://weeklyeconomictimes.com/news-details.php?recordID=4523

Date: 18 October 2009, Bangladesh

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For urgent extraction of coal

Posted by phulbarinews on November 1, 2009

Editor

THE State Minister for Power and Energy said on Tuesday that generation of electricity from diesel and furnace oil is very costly. He termed coal as the only option for generating electricity at low costs and emphasised the need for its immediate extraction. Power generation has reached a point where the economy is seriously hampered for shortage of electricity by about 1,500 megawatts. Production falters in many industries where gas is either a fuel or a raw material or both. Gas supply to some sectors has to be suspended to meet demands of others. The crisis is such that some big investment proposals for gas-based industries have been deferred for at least three years. This happens due to short supply of natural gas that fuels about 80 percent of power generation. The existing recoverable gas reserve is estimated to last a few years.

Against this backdrop, coal can be the best option for power generation. Solar, wind and nuclear energies are the other options but those would take longer time to harness in bulk. The country has a proven reserve of 2,086 million tonnes of quality coal, which is equivalent to about 19 TCF of natural gas. According to experts, this coal is enough to generate 5,000mw of electricity for up to 90 years. The local coal is safer as it contains less sulphur and carbon than the imported coal. It will also save about US$500 million that Bangladesh spends annually to import this fossil fuel. Bangladesh should therefore go for quickest possible extraction of the coal resource in a cost effective and environment-friendly way. Coal is still the source of world’s 30 percent energy. But a day may come soon when use of coal might be discouraged as part of global action to reduce greenhouse gas emission.

Source: http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2009/10/15/news0773.htm

Date: 15 October 2009, Bangladesh

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Zero per cent load shedding targetted by 2010: Coal extraction must for cheaper electricity

Posted by phulbarinews on November 1, 2009

Staff Reporter

State Minister for Power and Energy Enamul Huq yesterday said that immediate coal extraction is a must for generation of electricity at a low cost. Addressing a workshop organised by Power Development Board (PDB) on “Development of Power Sector and Mass Media” as chief guest, he said that electricity generation by diesel and furnace oil-based power plants is very costly. “We have not got additional gas reserve from existing onshore gas blocks so far. That is why extraction of coal is the only option for production of electricity at a cheaper cost,” he added.

Favouring price hike of electricity, he said that it is necessary to enable PDB to reach the break-even point. He pointed out that power sector growth is facing setback due to lack of coordination among the state-owned enterprises. About the renewable energy growth in Bangladesh, he said that the prospect of tapping solar and wind energy is still under discussion.

Energy Division Secretary Mohammed Mohsin said that the growth of electricity is dependent on energy sector development. “Media can play a positive role in this regard,” he said. Power Division Secretary Abul Kalam Azad said PDB and Rural Electrification Board cannot do anything positive without media support.

Information Secretary Dr Kamal Abdul Naser said that media could motivate people for energy savings through positive campaign. PDB Chairman ASM Alamgir Kabir said that the government has targeted zero load shedding by December 2010. “A total of 1,350MW electricity will be produced by rental and peaking power plants by this period,” he informed.

“Electricity growth rate was 7 per cent between 1990 and 2008. But the growth rate dropped by 5.8 per cent this year due to poor investment in power sector,” he said, adding, “Shortage and unreliable power supply has constrained economic growth.” He said that the PDB is expected to generate 752MW of electricity by December this year.

A total of 65 million people of the country are getting power supply though erratically while 80 million people do not have access to it, he informed. More than 30 energy reporters from different print and electronic media participated in the workshop.

Source: http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2009/10/14/news0678.htm

Date: 14 October 2009, Bangladesh

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Coal a must to produce electricity-Says state minister

Posted by phulbarinews on November 1, 2009

Staff Correspondent

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Enamul Haque Shahid yesterday said there is no alternative to going for coal to produce electricity in the country. “Since we have no adequate gas reserve and high price of diesel, we have to go for coal to produce electricity,” he added.

 

Shahid said this as the chief guest at a workshop titled ‘Development of power sector and mass media’ organised by Power Development Board (PDB) at its Wapda Bhaban in the city for journalists. Presenting a keynote paper, PDB Chairman Alamgir Kabir said the government is taking measures to implement its vision of zero load-shedding in the country from December 2010.

The government has taken immediate, short term and medium term measures to mitigate the load-shedding problem, he noted. Presenting the current scenario of the power sector, he said they have a plan to bring 3,547 megawatt (MW) of power to the national gird by 2014. He, however, said it is not possible to reach the goal unless the supply of gas is ensured.

To meet the vision of zero load-shedding, the government is going to take up immediate projects that can be implemented within six to 12 months with 500 MW to 1500 MW. “We are going to take short-term projects that can be implemented within 18 to 24 months with 800 MW capacity,” he said, adding that it would need about $10 billion to invest in the power sector under short, medium and long-term plans in the next five years.

Of the amount, $7 billion will require to be invested in generation segment while the rest $3 billion in transmission and distribution segments. Stressing on tariff rationalisation, Alamgir said it is one of the key issues for healthy growth of power sector and the government has no option but to raise the electricity tariff to avert bankruptcy of the public companies in the business.

“We have no option but to rationalising the tariff, otherwise our companies will become bankrupt,” he said. The people who have the affordability should give the real price of power,” he said, adding that a concerted effort is needed to ensure quality electricity with affordable price. Asked, when will the incumbent government’s power come, he said they are expecting to get a power plant of 250MW by the end of February next year.

About system loss, the PDB boss said system loss has been decreased to 13.5 percent from 19 percent in 2005. Power Secretary Abul Kalam Azad and Information Secretary Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury also spoke.

Date: 14 October 2009, Bangladesh

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Coal mining to start!

Posted by phulbarinews on October 13, 2009

S.A. Mansoor, Dhaka

Your front-page report on the matter published on October 6th has at least opened the door of possible open-pit coal mining in Bangladesh. Many so-called energy experts and intellectuals (virtual know-alls) with bookish knowledge and nothing else; and without an iota of mining experience, will as usual cry foul. They are out to sabotage any mining proposal per se. At least the government has gone to the Germans, who have knowledge and hands-on experience in both deep shaft and open pit mining. It is the proper source for expert opinion. It is time that the “Buddhi-Jibies” put a stop to their endless “Bakwas” and go back to their books; and refrain from talking on matters in which they are practically novices!

 

In the larger interest of the country, we have to maximise utilisation of our natural resource for producing the desperately needed electricity, and coal the raw material for it is lying underground! It will hopefully contain our fast depleting natural gas and reduce the import of liquid fuel. This will be good for the economic health of the country.

 

Of course, the people affected by the mining should be provided needed facilities for re-settlement; and compensated for their loss; which in the overall context of foreign exchange needed for energy in Bangladesh is marginal; possibly no more than one or at most two years cost of imported fuel. If the BNP government had signed any agreement, it was under duress and in any case they cannot sign away the right to explore and exploit natural resources. This will be worse than selling our natural resources for earning foreign exchange. Such illogical agreement against the interest of the country, should be ignored which will be supported by an overwhelming majority of people!

 

Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=109290

Date: 12 October 2009, Bangladesh

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Trial of open pit mine mulled

Posted by phulbarinews on October 13, 2009

Test case at Barapukuria may start in 2011; feasibility study soon; UNDP, German donor willing to fund

Sharier Khan

The energy ministry considers a feasibility study to take up a pilot project for an open pit mine as a test case in the Barapukuria underground coalmine from 2011, taking into account the ever-increasing energy crisis, sources say. The government, in this regard, is seeking financial and technical assistance from the UNDP and the German donor organisation GTZ, both of which are willing to provide up to $3 million funding.

The sources say a professional group comprising European and local professionals is likely to conduct the feasibility study and advise the government on this sensitive matter. The feasibility study must be conducted within a short time, the sources inform.

Of the country’s five identified coal deposits, that of Barapukuria and Phulbari are the nearest to surface, creating the possibility of an open pit mine that allows up to 90 percent extraction of coal. The open pit method is widely applied in Indian mines including those in West Bengal from where the Indian subcontinent first began coal mining.

The Barapukuria deposit has 389 million tonnes of coal at a depth of 120-450 metres. The present underground mine will tap less than 10 percent of its coal deposit, or only 30 million tonnes of coal, over a period of 30 years, although the government has invested a staggering Tk 1,600 crore for it.

Since the mine launched its production in 2005, it has produced around 2.5 million tonnes of coal, mine officials say. A 250-megawatt power plant at the mine site is the main consumer of this coal. The mine has on average a very thick 36-metre high quality coal seam.

Previously, during the last caretaker government regime a national coal committee headed by ex-Buet vice-chancellor Prof Abdul Matin Patwari in 2008 recommended turning Barapukuria into an open pit mine on a test basis. In a separate development, the Barapukuria Coal Mine Authority is conducting a report on whether an open pit mine is possible there by compiling the mine’s data of its north and central location.

This report will be presented to Petrobangla soon, sources say. If open pit mining in Barapukuria is found feasible, the government would spearhead the new mining project as a test case. If it is successful, the government would consider larger scale open pit mining, the sources point out. The country’s future demand for coal will shoot up significantly as the Power Development Board (PDB) is preparing to implement four 500 mw power projects based on imported coal.

These plants are intended to be implemented by 2014. If the Barapukuria mine can be developed into an open pit mine, it could cater a part of the demands of these plants. The energy ministry in this connection last Thursday held a meeting with officials of UNDP, GTZ, Petrobangla, Barapukuria Coal Mine Company Ltd, Power Development Board (PDB) and Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company. Energy Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr Towfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury and State Minister for Energy Enamul Haq, among others, were present.

The UNDP made a presentation on various aspects of coal mining on the basis of studying various methodologies, while GTZ talked about its different social aspects. The meeting discussed the possibility of open pit mines in two areas — Phulbari and Barapukuria — and converged that Barapukuria should be the first such case. “But we need huge data to decide on an open pit mine there to extract coal from its northern and central zones. We need to conduct aerial survey and undertake feasibility study quickly,” says a meeting source. Such mining will need an overhauled new mining design.

The existing underground mine’s operational contract with its Chinese developer will end in 2011, while the government will complete all payment against the Chinese supplier’s credit for this project by 2012. While other factors are also favourable for turning Barapukuria into an open pit mine, the national committee on protection of oil and gas has been opposing open pit mining in the country. The committee argues that this would cause environmental damage and people would lose arable land.

This committee has however not opposed to underground mining. However, in reality the underground Barapukuria mine has already damaged arable land and underground water tables to a great extent as the mine design had never considered any environmental aspects. The land damage has angered villagers around the mine, for which the Awami League government back in May signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the villagers assuring them of compensation and relocation.

About 4.2 square kilometres area of the underground Barapukuria coalmine site will eventually subside up to a maximum depth of two metres in the mine’s 30 years lifetime, Petrobangla sources say. Such subsidence will create a large lake, the sources point out. Residents of three to four villages — which are not densely populated like most other villages of the country — adjacent to the mine will eventually have to be relocated.

Land subsidence in the mining area has been reported from 2006. In addition, an improper subsoil water extraction plan has dried up the common water reservoirs for around 15 adjacent villages. Further, the mine is releasing environmentally hazardous water through canals affecting agriculture there. The government is also working on developing a mining city in Barapukuria which would not only help voluntary relocation of the affected people but also function as a centre for mining education and provide jobs and other facilities.

A committee in this connection recommended several months ago that the Barapukuria land area outside the mine which has subsided or will subside in future should be acquired by paying premium to the owners. The 2,500-acre underground mine area includes 650 acres of agriculture land on the surface. The mine is directly affecting living of about 2,500 people in seven or eight villages. “Resettlement of these people should not be very costly for the government,” says a source.

The country imports around three million tonnes of low quality coal from India worth more than a thousand crore taka each year to cater the needs of brick kilns and various industries.

Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=109073

Date: 10 October 2009, Bangladesh

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