BEIJING: The first-phase of Pakistan coal-power projects are near completion that is to benefit two million local people, officials said here. It is scheduled to be put into operation next year, according to the officials of the building contractor, China Machinery Engineering Corp.
The Pakistan Thar Mining and Power Project, whose construction started in April 2016 and is planned to be completed in October 2019, is the first coal and power integration project for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and is thus of great political and economic significance to both countries, industry insiders said.
Involving more than $2 billion in investment, the project was signed in 2014. Chinese and Pakistani consortium banks led by China Development Bank and Habib Bank joined the deal after inking a series of financing agreements.
The move grabbed the headlines in the media, as it was expected to give a boost to Pakistan's energy sector and improve the well-being of locals. CMEC and Pakistan have close bonds, with the company setting off its overseas construction journey from the neighboring country in the 1980s, where some 30 years later, the Thar project has created a new development model for the large Chinese State-owned enterprise, a leader in the power plant construction sector.
The project comprises coal mining and coal-fired power generation. On the initial phase, slated to begin operation next year, it will be capable of generating at least 3.8 million metric tons of brown coal annually, according to CMEC.
Currently, the project is advancing smoothly, well ahead of schedule, its executives revealed. Its phase II is planned to start in the near future, and the financial arrangement for phase III is expected to be settled within this year, they said.
"Making a difference in Pakistan - this is the common vision that CMEC shares with its Pakistani partner Engro Corp," said Zhang Chun, chairman of China Machinery Engineering Corp, during his inspection visit to the project in 2016.
The Thar project will help Pakistan to make better use of its own resources, optimize its energy structure and relieve the heavy reliance on imported petroleum to improve the country's international balance of payment, Zhang said.
Especially after the company expands its mining production and power generation, the economies of scale will further slash the country's energy costs. As CMEC offers training to local workers and technicians, the country's less developed mining sector will benefit from it, they said, adding increased employment created by the project can improve the local economy.