ISLAMABAD: The first phase of Thar coal-fired power projects, with power production capacity of 660 megawatts, would start its commercial operation by June 3, 2019 instead of October 2019, the earlier set target for completion of the project. Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) Chief Executive Officer Shamsudin Ahmed Sheikh told a group of journalists at the site of the project in district Tharparkar that the financial close of the project was achieved on April 4, 2016 and since then 10.2 percent of the total work had been completed. He informed that the work on power plant and coal mining was going on simultaneously. “This is the first coal fired power project in Thar and it is one of the leading energy project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” the SECMC CEO said, adding that this was also the only energy project with majority sponsorship from private sector of the country. Sheikh informed that under the second phase, two more power plants (330MW each) would be launched in January 2017, which would be completed by December 2019, as the SECMC had committed to off-take coal for phase II (7.6 mtpa) to Thal Limited and Hubco for setting up plants at block II. The SECMC also planed to add additional capacity of 11.4mtpa coal beyond phase II by December 2021, he added. Moreover, he said by December 2021, five more coal-fired power plants would be set up in the block II of Thar and the total production capacity of coal-based electricity of Thar would be expanded to around 3,000MW. He informed that the coal mining project cost was $845 million, which would be on the basis of 75:25 debt-to-equity ratio and would consist of 31.5 percent foreign and 68.5 percent local debt. “The main sponsors of the project are Sindh government with 54.7 percent share, Engro and Thal Limited with 12 percent each and Habib Bank Limited (HBL) with 10 percent share,” he remarked. Shamsudin Sheikh said the total cost of two 330MW mine mouth power plants would be $1.1 billion with 75:25 debt-to-equity ratio and it would consist of 75 percent foreign and 25 percent local debt. The main sponsors of the project, he added, were Engro with 50.1 percent share while its other shareholders were Liberty, HBL and China Machinery Engineering Company (CMEC) and others. He said that the Sindh Government had been a key enabler for the Thar project, which committed $110 million equity investment for phase-I and provided a back up for sovereign guarantee to the federal government of $700 million. The SECMC CEO informed that since the financial close of phase-I in block-II, interest in setting up Thar Coal based plants had surged and major industrial houses of the country and prominent Chinese investors had expressed an interest in obtaining coal from SECMC to set up power projects. Meanwhile, briefing the journalists, SECMC Chief Operating Officer Syed Abul Fazal Rizvi said that the mine depth of 40 meter was achieved while they would have to go 100 more meters deep to the coal level.