Indigenous Coal Emerging as Solid Energy Base

Khalid Pervaiz

Coal is an organo–clastic sedimentary rock, essentially composed of lithified plant debris. The properties of coal depend on the nature of original organic components including form of vegetation and degree of degradation or decay to burial and the inorganic constituents (mineral matter incorporated in it. The effects of pressure, temperature with time is highly significant in determining the coal type or rank. Energy contained in coal can be expressed in coal equivalent where one tonne coal equivalent represents the heat energy contained in one tonne of coal with a specific energy of 29.30 Mt Kg.’ (a calorific value of 12,600 Btu/lb.’ Or 7000 K cal/kg).
graph1The best known high rank deposits of coal of Carboniferous age occur in Europe, Asia and North America and those of Permian age are located through out the former continent of Gondwana Land. Low rank deposits of sub–bituminous and lignite occur in Tertiary strata of Europe, North America, Australia, Asia and parts of South East Asia. The total insitu resources of coal in the world including both high and low rank material, have been estimated at about 984,211 million tonnes. Out of these 509,491 million tonnes are high rank (bituminous and anthracite) and 474,720 million tonnes are low rank (lignite and sub bituminous) (Journal World Coal).
Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel in Pakistan. Knowledge of the size, distribution and quality of the nation’s coal resources is important for industrial planning and growth, and for meeting the short to long term energy needs of the country importation of fuel.

1. Coal resource terms are defined in the glossary.
2. Resources before mining.
3. Reserves,at the time of determination, borders on being        economically producible. Its essential characteristic is economic   uncertainty.
4. Includes coal left in room and pillar mining coal too thick to be recovered completely by conventional openpit mining and preparation plant waste.
The coal found in Sindh are of low rank, mostly lignite to sub-bituminous while these of Balochistan, Punjab and N.W.F.P. are higher in rank i.e. sub-bituminous to high volatile bituminous. The generalized average petrographic analysis of coals of Sindh (Lakhra, Sonda,Thar), Punjab (Salt Range / Makerwal) and Balochistan (Harnai-Shahrig-Khost), NWFP (Hangu), are given below.
graph2The percentages of lignite to hard coalin Asia are distributed as under:
Pakistan 97% China 83%
Indonesia 58% and India 3%


Coal has to assume a vital and significant role if Pakistan wants to reduce dependence on the country's useful but limited supply of natural gas and to reduce the burden on foreign exchange being spent on the import of oil. The initiative has to be taken for increased utilization of coal in Pakistan.
The production on National level from 2002 to 2007 remained within the range of 2.5 to 3.9 million tons. The total production of coal for the last ten years stands at 33.91 million tonnes in all the four provinces. The major production is from Balochistan (17.3 million tonnes) and Sindh (11.5million tonnes) coal fields.
graph 11
graph 12