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Dhaka Tribune

Hakaluki Haor has largest peat coal deposit

Update : 03 May 2014, 07:04 PM

A huge deposit of peat coal, commonly used to generate electricity, has been found at Chatal Beel in Hakaluki Haor of greater Sylhet division, says the Geological Survey of Bangladesh (GSB).

The state-run agency claims that it is the country’s largest peat coal reserve having around 200m tonnes coal of low sulphur content. The GSB has detected the coal at a depth between one and five meters below the surface during a survey under the second phase of a geo-scientific project for mineral resources.

The lion’s share of the reserve, stretching over Moulvibazar and Sylhet districts, is dry. The average thickness of this peat is two meters.

“Of the discovered reserve of 200m tonnes, the recoverable amount is 150m tonnes,” GSB Director General Sirajur Rahman Khan told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

The estimated cost of 200m tonnes peat coal would be around Tk1,000 crore.

Earlier, the highest amount was found at Baghia-Chanda Beel in Madaripur, around 100m tonnes.

Peat, an unconsolidated deposit of semi-carbonised plant, remains in a water-saturated environment, such as a bog or fen and of persistently high moisture content. It is an early stage or rank in the development of coal having 60% carbon content and 30% oxygen.

A team from the department found the coal after conducting the survey in two phases – one survey was conducted from January to March last year and another from January to April this year.

The GSB has so far discovered considerable quantities of peat deposits in various localities of the country. Amongst them, the deposits of Baghia-Chanda Beel in Madaripur, Kola Mauza in Khulna, and Pagla and Salla of Sunamganj are notable.

“Chatal Beel is the country’s largest reserve of the dry peat calculated to be 150m tonnes. It can be used to produce 40-50 megawatt electricity for 100 years, and also in brick kilns. The peat coal will be economically viable if we use it for electricity production,” said GSB Director (geology) Md Nehal Uddin, who heads the survey.

Nehal, also the project director, told the Dhaka Tribune that the geo-scientific survey was part of a three-year-programme for the development of mineral resources at a cost of Tk59.6m.

The project started in July 2011 and is expected to end in June this year. Around Tk12 lakh has been spent to conduct the peat coal survey.

“We found layers of dry and wet peat coal at a depth between one and five metres below the surface,” GSB’s Assistant Director Mohammod Masum, who headed the five-member survey team, told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

The GSB conducted surveys in six upazilas – Kulaura, Juri and Baralekha under Moulvibazar district, and Beanibazar, Fenchuganj and Gopalganj under Sylhet.

 He said the geological team dug 2,000 boreholes at Chatal Beel having distance of 100-400 meters.

“The amount of sulphur is low in this coal which is useable for producing electricity,” he said. “The peat coal is about 7,500 years’ old, and its samples are being examined in laboratory to determine its chemical composition.” He estimated that the coal deposit stretched over an area of around 70-80 sq-km.

Prof Ijaz Hossain of Buet said: “Peat coal is not used normally for power plant as the calorific value is lower. Besides this, these power plants become dirty. But in Ireland they produce electricity of 5,000MW with peat coal.

“We have a shortage primary fuel to generate electricity. So we can use it,” he observed.

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