Bulk terminal willing to increase capacity by 40pc

The country’s only dirty cargo terminal is willing to increase its coal-handling capacity by more than 40 per cent at a “marginal cost” of up to $70 million over a period of two to three years. Speaking to a group of journalists, Pakistan International Bulk Terminal (PIBT) CFO said that adding the second conveyor belt for coal will increase the terminal’s capacity to 17m tonnes per annum from the existing 12m tonnes. The cement industry is planning to expand its production capacity from 70m tonnes a year to 100m tonnes, which will significantly increase the demand for coal imports in coming years. Coal imports via PIBT hit a peak of 10.1m tonnes last year. Separately, three coal-based power plants import up to 12m tonnes a year collectively through their own jetties. The terminal has been handling all vessels carrying coal meant for cement plants since June 2018 when the Supreme Court banned it’s unloading on Karachi Port Trust’s (KPT) six berths to curb pollution in Karachi. The cement industry has repeatedly called for expanding the country’s coal import infrastructure. A recent statement by its representative body referred to the long vessel line-up at PIBT causing delays, demurrages and extra operational costs. Cement makers have also asked the federal government to allow the discharge of imported coal at KPT. KPT would take four to five days to discharge a single ship of 50,000 tonnes. In contrast, PIBT unloads a 60,000-tonne ship in just 35 hours. “We have the second berth. We’ll have to install the mechanical structure and put in place a second line for coal, which can be done upon regulatory approvals,” he said, noting that it’s up to the government if it wants to set up an entirely new terminal or get the required capacity added to the existing one at a significantly smaller cost.


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