Coal production from the country's lone coalmine at Barapukuria in northern Dinajpur doubled this year making way for installation of a new coal-fired power plant at the mine mouth, officials said.
The Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Ltd (BCMCL) is now producing around 3,000 - 3,500 tons of high quality bituminous coal a day, which was around 1,500 tonnes a year ago.
"We have augmented coal production significantly to meet the mounting demands in power plants, brick kilns and tea gardens," the BCMCL Managing Director Abdul Aziz Khan told .
The overall management, supply of necessary materials and determination among the employees helped double the coal production in a year from the Barapukuria coalmine, Mr Khan said.
To utilize the augmented coal production the power ministry has recently worked out a plan to install a new 125-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant at the mine mouth.
A recent meeting in the power ministry has decided to install the coal-fired power plant relying on the current level of coal productions from the Barapukuria coalmine and future prospects.
Currently a 250 MW coal fired power plant is operational at the mine mouth of the Barapukuria coalmine that consumes Barapukuria coal to generate electricity.
It consumes around 2,000 tons of coal everyday to generate electricity in full swing.
But due to technical glitches the power plant can hardly generate electricity in its full capacity through both the units of 125 MW each, said a senior official of the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB).
He said one unit out of the two has to be kept shut alternatively to cope with the technical shortcomings of the power plant.
A new coal-fired power plant would thus ensure proper utilization of the Barapukuria coal, the BPDB official said.
"We have recently placed a proposal to the planning ministry to get a go ahead with our plan for installing the new coal-fired power plant," Power Secretary M Fauzul Kabir Khan told the FE.
He said the government has decided to install the power plant through open bidding as soon as possible to improve the electricity supply situation across the country.
Energy ministry officials said a Chinese consortium, led by China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC), completed the Barapukuria coalmine exploitation works through underground mining in 2005.
It took more than 11 years to complete the job although a timeframe of four years was fixed at the time of signing the agreement in 1994.
Since initiation of operation the Barapukuria coalmine was struggling to extract coal at the expected level.
Due to deficiency in coal extraction the BPDB had to import around 50,000 tonnes of inferior quality coal from neighbouring India in 2007.
Experts said coal extracted from Barapukuria is better in quality than that of India .
The quantity of air-pollutant sulphur in the locally-produced coal is around 0.50 per cent, whereas, it is around 3.0 per cent in Indian coal, said sources quoting a survey conducted by the Overseas Development Agency (ODA) of the UK.
Besides, local coal has much higher energy producing capacity compared to its Indian counterpart. The burning capacity of local coal is 11,500 British thermal unit (btu), whereas it is 7,500 for Indian coal.