KARACHI: The country’s only dirty cargo terminal is poised to increase its coal processing capacity by more than 40% at “marginal cost” of up to $ 70 million over a two to three year period.
Speaking to a select group of reporters on Thursday, Pakistan International Bulk Terminal (PIBT) CFO Arslan Iftikhar Khan said adding a second coal conveyor belt would increase the terminal’s capacity to 17 million. tonnes per year, compared to the existing 12 million tonnes.
“We would like to increase our capacity. We have the ability to expand the existing infrastructure to a level that will be sufficient to meet the growing demand for coal over the next five years, ”said the chief financial officer of the mechanized bulk handling terminal built at Port Qasim on construction, operation and transfer. (BOT).
The cement industry plans to expand its production capacity from 70 million tonnes per year to 100 million tonnes, which will significantly increase the demand for imported coal in the coming years.
Coal imports via PIBT peaked at 10.1 million tonnes last year. Separately, three coal-fired power plants import up to 12 million tonnes per year collectively through their own piers.
The terminal has been handling all ships carrying coal destined for cement plants since June 2018, when the Supreme Court banned its unloading at the six Karachi Port Trust (KPT) berths to tackle pollution in Karachi.
“We are seriously considering the option of expansion. But we need to talk to our regulators. We anticipate higher demand as we are already operating at over 80% of our capacity, ”he said.
The cement industry has repeatedly called for expanding the country’s coal import infrastructure. A recent statement from its representative body referred to the long queue of vessels at PIBT resulting in delays, demurrage and additional operational costs. The cement companies also asked the federal government to allow the unloading of imported coal at KPT.
“KPT would take four to five days to unload a single 50,000 tonne vessel. Thanks to its mechanized handling, PIBT unloads a 60,000 tonne vessel in just 35 hours. The current delays are not due to our lack of processing capacity. The real reason is the mismanagement of imports, ”he said, noting that importers should sit down with the terminal operator and schedule their vessels.
“We have the second berth. We will have to install the mechanical structure and put in place a second line for coal, which can be done with regulatory approval, ”he said, noting that it is up to the government if it wants to put in place a whole. new terminal or get the required capacity added to the existing one at a significantly lower cost.
Khan insisted that PIBT did not unilaterally increase the handling charge for coal as it still charges importers the official rate of $ 5.49 per tonne. The additional charge of $ 1 per tonne for miscellaneous expenses is also in line with the implementation agreement under which PIBT operates, he said. In total, the terminal collects a fee from importers of around Rs 1,200 per tonne, including the fee, he added.
“Considering that 250,000 kilograms of coal produces 1,000 kilograms of cement, the impact per bag of PIBT fees on the final cement price is only Rs 5. It remains the same regardless of other input costs. “, he added.
Posted in Dawn, le 11 September 2021