30 April, 2002 – Pakistan has signed an agreement for China to develop two coal fired power plants totalling $600m, reported the Pakistani daily News International today.

A bilateral memorandum of understanding signed in Beijing specifies that the two 300 MW thermal plants will be completed within three years and would run on a build, own and operate basis, said Sindh Minister Dewan Mohammad Yousuf Farooqi, who signed the MoU on behalf of the government of Pakistan.

The two plants will be fired by coal extracted from Pakistan’s Tharparkar, or Thar, Desert in Sindh province, the newspaper said.

China’s state-run Shenhua Group Co. Ltd., China’s leading coal producer and third largest coal exporter, will construct and operate the two plants at a site located in the 9000 kmĀ² Thar field, the newspaper said.

Shenhua will conduct an exploratory geological survey to better quantify Thar’s coal reserves, it added. The Shenhua Group specializes in coal, power, railways, ports and transportation.

“Under the MoU…the Shenhua Group will undertake a geological study of the Thar coal site, which is to be completed within a period of one year,” the newspaper said.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, Riaz Hussain Khokhar, said the MoU demonstrated strengthening bilateral economic ties cemented by President Pervez Musharraf and Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji during a summit in Beijing last December.