Sunday, January 24, 2010

What's stopping Bangladesh coal mining?

Bangladesh is struggling with depleting gas reserves and next week starts gas rationing. This will put its ceramic, glass, sugar, textile and allied industries at risk of closure.

"Bangladesh must without any delay take whaver actions are required to start mining its own coal and set up mine mouth coal based power plants," wrote Saleque Sufi at Energy Bangla. "Otherwise present government will soon face serious street agitation as power supply situation and gas situation will go from bad to worse. No investor will care to invest in Bangladesh. Rather several will wind up soon."

He argued that Bangladesh can generate about 20,000MW power for 30 years using domestic coal "if mined properly" and nomintated five coal mines: Barapukuria, Phulbari, Dighpara, Khalaspeer and Jamalganj  in the greater Dinajpoor-Rangpoor area. "Coal from Barapukuria and Phulbari can definitely be mined very safely and economically addressing all environmental and social impacts applying proven technology. A combination of open pit and underground mining can be applied for Khalaspeer and Dighipara mines. Coal from Jamalganj can be extracted either by CBM (Coal Bed Methane) or Underground Coal Gasification method," he wrote.

The New Nation newspaper similalrly opined: "Coal has a high prospect for power generation. The country has a proven reserve of 2,086 million tonnes of quality coal, which is enough to generate 5,000 mw of electricity per day for up to 90 years. The local coal is safer environmentally and will save about US$500 million spent for annual oil import. But Bangladesh's coal potential is still untapped in the main."

Dr Mohammed Ataur Rahman, Director of the Program on Education for Sustainability at the International University of Business, Agriculture and Technology, called on the Bangladesh government to make immediate arrangements for sustainable use of energy resources, along with facilitating usage of coals for power generation.

"The country has a big reserve of high quality anthracite coal … the government should facilitate the production of electricity utilising this natural resource," he said as quoted by The Financial Express. He added that only 43% of Bangladeshis had access to electricity and frequent load shedding disrupts the whole economy of the country. "But we cannot think even a day without electricity."

Putting the daily requirement of electricity at 5,500 MW, Dr Rahman said, " the present generation capacity is 4,120 MW - a deficit of 1,280 MW - while the annual electricity demand increment rate is 8.1%."

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