Barapukuria Coal Mining Company
Barapukuria Coal Mining Company is a wholly owned coal-mining subsidiary of Petrobangla, which is otherwise known as the Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation. Petrobangla is a state-owned company which is involved in oil and gas exploration, production, and distribution as well as coal, granite and limestone mining. 
Barapukuria Coal Mining Company operates the Barapukuria coal mine, an underground coal mine at Barapuluria in the Dinajpur District. "The coal mine had a production capacity of 1 Mt/yr of coal. Coal extraction was by long-wall mining. The coal was delivered to a thermal powerplant. Development work of the next long-wall coal face was underway, and production was expected to begin in 2007," the USGS reports.
The 2,500-acre underground mine includes 650 acres of agricultural land on the surface. The International Accountability Project reports that mining operations at Barapukuria have destroyed roughly 300 acres of land, impacting about 2,500 people in seven villages, as land subsidence of over one meter in depth has destroyed crops and lands and damaged homes. People in 15 villages have also reportedly lost their access to water, as huge quantities of water pumped out for the Barapukuria mine caused a rapid drop in water levels.
Those affected by land subsidence are seeking compensation and repair of their homes. The Daily Star reports that the mine’s operator, Barapukuria Coal Mine Company Ltd, has proposed building and resettling them in eight to ten “tin sheds”. Faced with resistance by people in Barapukuria, Towfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, the energy adviser to the prime minister, announced that the government was considering plans to establish a "Coal City" near Barapukuria, which would provide housing and new sources of livelihood for victims of land subsidence. According to Towfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, the resettlement of people whose homes have been destroyed is to be carried out in phases. The Coal City would initially be designed to provide homes and livelihoods for 10,000 families, but may ultimately expand to 100,000 families.
Since coal mining began in 2005, there have been a series of fatal and near-fatal accidents, including the death of a British mining expert caused by inhaling poisonous gases, a gas leakage accident in 2005 that required the closing and sealing off a portion of the mine, and a roof cave-in on May 11, 2010 that killed one worker and wounded 19 people. Engineers report that government policy makers have failed to heed their warnings about inadequate health, safety and environmental provisions in the Barapukuria mine, with some stating that standard safety procedures are virtually non-existent at the mine.
Potential mining by Peabody
Barapukuria's existing contract with a Chinese company will expire in 2011, and Peabody has expressed interest in mining the area. In March 2011, Barapukuria had a proven reserve of around 389 million tons of coal, and the company expects to extract 10 to 20 per cent of the total reserves through underground mining within the next 30 years. The government has so far extracted less than four million tons of coal from the mine. Peabody operates worldwide including the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, Mongolia, China, Singapore and Indonesia.
On May 5, 2011, locals blocked railways and a highway protesting the government's plan for open pit mining at the Barapukuria Coal Mine. The demonstrators - under the banner of National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Minerals Resources, Power and Port - numbered in the thousands, and demanded compensation for loss of aman crops and postponement of the ongoing land survey. Hundreds of people from Chowhaati, Durgapur, Shahgram, Rambhadrapur, Yousufpur and Bagra villages attacked the 'National Committee' members. At least five people were injured during the ten-minute-long clash.
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Articles and Resources
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Chin S. Kuo, The Mineral Industry of Bangladesh: 2007, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, December 2008.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kate Hoshour, "Massive protest against Phulbari & Barapukuria coal mines in Bangladesh" International Accountability Project, March 4, 2011.
- ↑ Saleem Samad, "US energy giant Peabody keen to mine coal in Bangladesh" All Headline News, March 18, 2011
- ↑ "Siege protesting open pit mining to continue today" The Daily Star, May 5, 2011.