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Barapukuria Coal Mining Company

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Barapukuria Coal Mining Company (BCMC) 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. [1]

Barapukuria Coal Mining Company operates the Barapukuria coal mine, an underground coal mine at Barapuluria in the Dinajpur District. The mine, which was commissioned in September 2005, was designed to produce 1 million tonnes a year. The bulk of the coal from the mine is supplied to the existing Barapukuria Coal Power Plant which, while comprising two 125 megawatt generating units, is rated as having an installed capacity of 200 megawatts.[2]

Ahead of the the August 2011 expiry of the initial mine development agreement with China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC), the Barapukuria Coal Mining Company sought expressions of interest from mining companies for the further expansion of the mine. While Peabody expressed interest in the project[3] but ultimately the sole bidder was the existing operator, a consortium comprising Xuzhou Coal Mining Group Company and CMC. BCMC entered into a new contract for a further six years with the expectation that output from the mine - running at approximately 800,000 tonnes in 2011 - would double the following year. Approximately 70% of the output from the mine is supplied to the existing Barapukuria coal fired power station.[4]

In its 2011 annual report BCMC stated that in the new contract a target annual production of 5.5 million tonnes of coal a year has been assumed.[5] Part of the output from the proposed expansion would be for the proposed Barapukuria 3rd Unit, a 250 megawatt expansion of the existing Barapukuria Coal Power Plant.

Mine Impacts

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.[6]

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.[6]

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.[6]

Protests

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.[7]

Contact details

Petrocentre,
3 Kawranbazar,
Dhanka - 1215,
Bangladesh
FAX - 880 2 9120224
Website: http://www.petrobangla.org.bd/

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. Chin S. Kuo, The Mineral Industry of Bangladesh: 2007, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, December 2008.
  2. Bangladesh Power Development Board, "Annual Report 2011-12", Bangladesh Power Development Board, page 44.
  3. Saleem Samad, "US energy giant Peabody keen to mine coal in Bangladesh" All Headline News, March 18, 2011
  4. "Govt to sign coalmine contract with China consortium again", Financial Express, October 25, 2011.
  5. Barapukuria Coal Mining Company, "Annual Report 2011", Barapukuria Coal Mining Company, page 30.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Kate Hoshour, "Massive protest against Phulbari & Barapukuria coal mines in Bangladesh" International Accountability Project, March 4, 2011.
  7. "Siege protesting open pit mining to continue today" The Daily Star, May 5, 2011.

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