Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Ltd (BCMCL) failed to resume production on scheduled March 1 as CMC-XMC Consortium, the Chinese contractor of the company, has refrained from work demanding arrears worth around Tk 186 crore.
BCMLC Managing Director Abdur Rahman confirmed that coal production, which remained suspended throughout the course of last February due to shifting of equipment and machinery, did not resume on March 1 and the situation remained the same as of yesterday due to the unpaid arrears.
No official of the CMC-XMC Consortium was available to make comment on the issue.
Earlier the contracted company in a letter sent to Petrobangla, the parent organisation of the BCMCL, had urged paying the dues by February 26. Otherwise, the coal production could not be resumed, the latter said.
The amount is due under various heads since CMC-XMC signed the contract with BCMLC on August 11 in 2017, said a BCMLC official requesting anonymity.
And possibly due to fund crisis, the Chinese company failed to pay last month's salary of its 1,000 mine workers on March 5, the scheduled payday for the workers.
This correspondent tried to reach quite a few officials of the Chinese company for their comments, but no one responded.
Talking with this correspondent, several mineworkers said that the CMC-XMC offered them half their salaries yesterday, but the workers refused it.
“We are not taking half salary,” said Robiul Islam, president of BCMCL mine workers union. He also said that CMC-XMC officials asked them to take half of their salaries on the plea of fund shortage.
Abdur Rahman, the MD of BCMCL, said that they failed to meet contracted company's deadline for adjusting Tk 119 crore as part value (production cost) of 1.45 lakh tonnes of missing coal, which mysteriously disappeared from the coal yard in July last year.
The market value of missing coal was Tk 230 crore.
“We are trying to solve the problem as early as possible,” he said over phone on Tuesday, adding that a board meeting will be held in Dhaka on Thursday to solve the problem.
Contacted, a high official of Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation (Petrobangla) yesterday evening said that the matter had already been settled and the production would resume immediately.
The coalmine was set up by CMC-XMC in Dinajpur's Parbatipur upazila at a cost of Tk 1,400 crore. Coal production started in 2005.
It provides fuel for the 525MW coal-fired power plants near the BCMCL run by Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB).
Around 4,500 tonnes of coal are needed at the plant every day.
Asked if the suspension of coal production would affect the power plants, a BCMCL official said they have got enough stock to meet the demand for another two weeks.
The coal production of BCMCL has actually remained suspended for more than a month as the equipment and machinery were being shifted from one coalface underground to another during the course of last February.