Barapukuria coal mine expanding northward
About Tk 300 crore is going to be spent on acquisition of at least 300 acres of land, mostly arable, to facilitate northward expansion of the Barapukuria coal mine in Parbatipur upazila.
The expansion of the country's lone active underground coal mine will ultimately result in an increase in its production cost by about 40 percent for each metric tonne of coal.
Officials of the mine's operating authorities, Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Limited (BCMCL), a subsidiary of Petrobangla, said keeping in mind that coal in the central reserve of the mine will end within the next two years, it has to be expanded to ensure uninterrupted supply of coal to Barapukuria 525 MW Thermal Power Plant in future.
The neighbouring power plant, operated by Bangladesh Power Development Board, is currently the sole user of most of the coal produced by BCMCL.
Coal from Barapukuria used to be sold to brickfields for baking bricks, but the sale was suspended in March 2018.
The existing coal extraction contract between state-run BCMCL and China-based CMC-XMC Consortium expires on August 10 this year.
With that in mind and in line with the expansion plan, the BCMCL has already made all necessary preparations and extended its contract with CMC-XMC for six more years, effective from August 11 this year, said Kamruzzaman Khan, the managing director (MD) of BCMCL.
Under the six-year contract, CMC-XMC will develop new mines in the north of the existing central reserve and extract about 4.5 million tonnes of coal -- 1.3 million tonnes from the central reserve and 3.2 million tonnes from the northern reserve, he added.
The expensive and time-consuming task of linking the central and northern reserves with a minimum of 5.8 kilometres of underground roadways will likely raise the production cost of coal, said several BCMCL officials.
As opposed to the current production cost of around USD 100 per tonne, the same amount of coal might end up costing about USD 140 after the development of the northern reserve is complete, they also speculated.
Since its inception in 2005 till May this year, 12 crore tonnes of coal was extracted from the mine. In fiscal year 2019-20 alone, BCMCL earned Tk 271.50 in net profit.
In 2006, when incidents of land subsidence took place in surrounding areas, BCMCL paid Tk 191 crore to villagers, in compensation for acquisition of at least 646 acres of land.
BCMCL officials said the new land acquisition is a measure to avoid any loss of life or property in case of any land subsidence occurs during the development in the northern reserve of the mine.
The mine has been playing a significant role in the national economy by supplying its coal to the Barapukuria power plant, said Kamruzzaman, the MD of BCMCL.