We talk to Naheed Memon, CEO of Oracle Power PLC (AIM: ORCP) to get an overview of the company and her view on Pakistan’s economic growth as well as the CPEC agreement. Naheed also provides more insight into the Thar project.
The Thar Coalfield is located 380 kilometres east of Karachi. It covers an area of 9100 square kilometres, with a total lignite resource in excess of 175 billion tonnes, the sixth-largest in the world.
Block VI is located in the centre of the coalfield and covers an area of 66.1 square kilometres. The site has been extensively drilled and coal samples recovered and tested to international standards and a JORC compliant resource of 529Mt has been confirmed over a 20 square kilometre area.
The Technical Feasibility Study carried out by SRK Consulting confirmed the JORC resource and the results of the geotechnical and hydrological investigations set out the design parameters for the mine and confirmed the viability of constructing and operating a large open pit mine capable of producing 5Mt of coal per annum. The lignite coal in Block VI is relatively low in sulphur content when compared with lignite in Germany and Poland. Although the moisture content is relatively high, it is suitable for a coal-fired electrical power plant. The coal itself lies at 150 metres depth below the surface.
Following the completion of the Technical Feasibility Study the Company’s Pakistan subsidiary Sindh Carbon Energy Ltd (SCEL) was granted a Mining Lease for Block VI by the Coal Mines Development, Government of Sindh (formerly Coal Mines Development) for a 30 year period extendable for a further 30 years.
A pre-feasibility study by Mott MacDonald UK confirmed the suitability of the coal for thermal power generation and concluded the coal was suitable for either conventional pulverised coal or circulating fluidised bed plants.
The company engaged Wardell Armstrong International and Hagler Bailly of Pakistan to carry out the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the project and this was completed in May 2013 and approved by the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) in January 2014. The Company submitted its Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) to SEPA in April 2014 as required in the ESIA approval process. The RAP has been drawn up in line with with the Resettlement Policy Framework by the Government of Sindh.
The RAP sets out the policy and procedures that will be employed to facilitate the eventual resettlement of the small local communities who will be affected by the mine and power plant development. This is being done in consultation with the local communities with the support of the Thar Coal and Energy Board and local government agencies.
Work is continuing in 2016 to establish current land ownership within the block and to identify areas suitable for resettlement.
In 2015 Oracle set up a subsidiary Thar Electricity (Private) Ltd (TEPL), a company registered in Pakistan, to promote the development of the Block VI mine mouth power plant. TEPL has registered the Thar Block VI Power Plant with the Private Power Investment Board (PPIB) for a plant up to 1200MW capacity and has made an application to construct initially a 600MW plant at the site. The Central Power Purchasing Agency issued a “Letter of No Objection” for the 600MW power plant in November 2015 and NTDC also confirmed that power from the project will be accommodated within the planned high voltage transmission line.
More information can be found on their website: www.oraclepower.co.uk/
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