Coal is one of the principal minerals produced in Pakistan, but total reserves, estimated at 400 million tones, are not large by world standards. Sizeable deposits exist in Baluchistan, the Salt Range (Cis-Indus and Trans-Indus), and Sind, with Baluchistan the major producer. The Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (P.I.D.C.) has assisted the development of mines in Baluchistan and elsewhere.
The coal is of low quality, lignite to sub-bituminous, and occurs in the Lower Tertiary sequence, ranging in age from 50 to 60 million years. The coal seams are generally lenticular, vary in thickness from a few inches to a few feet, have a high ash and sulphur content, and are of low heat value. Coal is used mainly in brick and lime burning, briquetting plants, the ceramics industry, ginning mills, and for firing the boilers of power stations and steam locomotives. There may be some future use in chemical industries. Production in 1970/71 was 12,87,000
Salt Range and Makarwal Coal Fields
The coal belt in the Salt Range extends from 20 miles north of Khushab to 15 miles north-east of Khewra, an area of about 100 sq. miles. There is only one workable seam and this has a maximum thickness of 5 ft. Outcrops occur along the upper slopes of the south-facing Salt Range scrap. The coal is high volatile bituminous with a high ash and sulphur content and deteriorates badly during storage. The producing mines are at Dandot and Pidh. Reserves are
The Makarwal coal-mining area lies in the Trans-Indus Salt Range and extends from eight miles west of Kalabagh to west of Makarwal. The coalfield occurs in an anticline which has been subjected to tectonic disturbances in its eastern sector. Seams in the western sector are less disturbed and more regular and range in thickness from 2 to 10 ft. The coal is of slightly better quality than that of the Salt Range. Reserves to a depth of 200 feet are estimated at 21 million tons and, with the exhaustion of the surface outcrops, these deeper seams are being exploited.
Baluchistan Coal Fields
The coalfields of Baluchistan are mostly located in the north-eastern part of the province and can be considered in three groups; (1) Khost-Shahrig, Haranai; (2) Mach; and (3) Sor Range-Degari.
KHOST-SHAHRIG, HARNAI. This is the largest coalfield in Baluchistan. It extends over an area of 80 sq. miles from Harnai to 20 miles east of Quetta. It is connected with the Sibi-Zardalu branch-line of Pakistan Railways. The coal-bearing strata extend in a northwest-southeast direction for a distance of about 35 miles. At present three seams, up to 5 ft. thick, are being mined. The coal is high volatile bituminous, and has the highest heat value among Pakistani coals. Reserves are estimated to be about 40 million tons.
MACH coalfield covers an area of 16 sq. miles on both sides of the Sibi-Quetta railway line. The coal is of inferior quality and occurs in shallow and discontinuous seams, only four of which are economically workable. Further, since most seams extend into low-lying areas, there is a problem of excess water in the mines. Reserves to a depth of 1,000 ft. are small.
SOR RANGE-DEGARI coalfield covers about 18 sq. miles, 10 miles east of Quetta. Several coal seams, ranging in thickness up to 10 ft., are present but only two are worked. The mines are shallow, following the dip of the seams. P.I.D.C. has constructed a mile-long haulage tunnel in the central block of the field. The coal is sub-bituminous in quality, of low ash and sulphur content, and is suitable for brick kilns and briquetting. Reserves are estimated at 53 million tons.
Sind Coal Fields
Two coalfields occur in the lower part of the Indus Plain; one at LAKHRA and the other at METING-JHIMPIR.
LAKHRA coalfield lies about 10 miles west of Khanot railway station, on the Kotri-Dadu branch-line of Pakistan Railways. It extends over an area of 80 sq. miles. The coal beds are associated with a gently folded anticline, have a thickness of 2-8 ft. and occur at depths of less than 150 ft. The coal is inferior quality lignite, has a moisture content, and tends to crumble on drying. Reserves are about 22 million tons.
METING-JHIMPIR coalfield lies about 80 miles north of Karachi near Jhimpir and Meting railway stations. It extends over an area of 350 sq. miles. The coal beds occur at the base of low limestone hills, but there is only one workable seam and this is thin and lenticular. Reserves are about 28 million tons.
Coal is found in other localities in Pakistan but, because of the smallness and inferior quality of the deposits, mining is uneconomical.