Coal is now becoming one of the most significant raw materials for Pakistan for it being the primary ingredient in cement manufacturing and electricity production. To fully harness the power of natural resources, Pakistan’s first coal-dedicated import terminal has gone live now and has started operations on commercial basis in Port Qasim. Pakistan International Bulk Terminal Limited (PIBT) Company Secretary Arsalan Khan announced the success of the project in a notification to Pakistan Stock Exchange.
The import terminal was established at a price of $285 million and has a capacity of handling 12 million tons of cargo per year. The terminal will provide services to cement manufacturers in order to help them with their export services. Coal is already a hot commodity right now due to current annual demand where 5-7 million ton is being imported.
However, the demand may increase significantly to 12-15 million tons in the near future as more coal powered projects are in line to go live. The more coal powered projects start to go live, the more coal will be needed to fulfill the growing demand. Future demand for coal will also vary according to the timelines in which the power projects starts operating.
Efforts are also being put in generating electricity locally from coal powered projects, in order to meet the electricity demands in the country. Sahiwal’s coal-powered project worth 1,320 megawatts is already been tested out while about 2,900 megawatt coal powered electricity projects are expected to be operational in the next two years.
For now, a major portion of coal import is being done by PIBT for Awan Trading only that’s one of the biggest suppliers and importers of coal in Pakistan. PIBT has also introduced an automated terminal to cut down on the loading and unloading time. The loading unloading time taken manually can go down substantially with the automated terminal.
Currently, it takes seven days to handle coal at the port while the new system will take about 2 days only to handle the same tonnage at the port. A new system called SCADA has also been implemented that can be operated by a single person. The system can unload about 1,800 tons of coal per hour and about 3,600 tons of coal per hour can be loaded as well.