Q.1. Where Thar Coal fields are located and how much coal reserves are there?
Thar Coal fields are located in Thar desert area occupying East and Southeastern portion of Sindh Province of Pakistan. Being a desert, the area is extremely dry arid region with very low rainfall and limited water resources. The estimated coal reserves of the Sindh Province is nearly 185 billion tones in mine fields like Thar, Badin, and Thatta-Sonda-Jherrack of which Thar coal fields possesses 175 billion ton, one of the biggest Lignite deposits spread in an area of 9100 sq. km in the Tharparkar district.
Q.2. How and when these coal reserves were discovered?
The tangible indications that coal was present beneath the sands of the Thar Desert came with the drilling of five water wells by the British Overseas Development Agency (ODA) in collaboration with the defunct Sindh Arid Zone Development Authority (SAZDA). Water drill hole ODA2 was drilled in 1988 near the village of Khario Ghulam Shah about 15 km east of Islamkot. The descriptions of cuttings from this well noted “Carbonaceous Shale” between depths of 126-129m. On the basis of the presence of coal in ODA2 water well the Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP) and United States Geological Survey (USGS) examined and described drill cuttings from other nearby SAZDA wells in March 1989. The hole No.TH-5 was geophysical logged along with other holes and it was estimated the total coal present in well was 19 m. Further confirmation of the coal presence in Thar Desert exploration program was carried out by drilling 4 bore holes.
In October 1992, the Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP), and United States Geological Survey (USGS) began a 21 bore holes exploration program to define the magnitude and geographic limits of the Thar Coal field. In 1993, an additional 10 bore holes were drilled by the John .T. Boyd Company under the auspices of USAID, additional 03 drill holes were also drilled by GSP under the auspices of USAID. The studies proved that Thar coalfield is spread over an area of 9100 square kilometers with dimensions of 140 km (north-south) 65 km (east-west) having 175 billion tones of Lignite categorized “A” to “B”.
The GSP carried out the drilling program for development of the blocks for further proven coal reserves from 1994-2000 and Blocks I, II, III and IV were developed. In 2005-2006, Sindh Coal Authority developed Block V and VI through Northeast Coalfield Geological Survey Bureau, China. In 2008-09, Sindh Coal Authority developed Block VII, VIII and extended the block III up to 56 Sq.km (i-e Block III-B) through M/s Deep Rock Drilling Pvt. Limited.