The government is targeting to produce additional 0.8 million tonnes of coal a year by expanding the operational area of Barapukuria coal mine by 4.5 square kilometres.
The country's lone coal mine produces around one million tonnes of coal a year.
The Barapukuria coal mine company limited (BCMCL) and US-based John T Boyd Company signed a deal on Thursday for conducting a feasibility study of the expansion of the existing underground mining operations.
The US firm will complete the feasibility study within the next 18 months.
“We are hopeful of producing additional 0.6-0.8 million tonnes of coal a year subject to the extension of the mining area,” BCMCL Managing Director Habib Uddin Ahmed said.
Currently, coal is being extracted from the central part of the coal basin which has two other parts --- one in the southern part and another in the northern part.
Officials said the southern part of the basin and far south of the lease area are potentially important for mining. The primary analysis suggests that underground mining is possible from the northern part of the basin where the bedrock thickness is more than 80m above the top of coal seam-6.
The government has a plan to produce 20,000MW of electricity by 2021 as per its Vision 2021.
More than 53 percent of the electricity will be produced from coal-based power plants using domestic and international sources of coal.The power plant adjacent to Barapukuria coal mine is set to install its third unit having the capacity of generating 275 MW depending on the coal supply from Barapukuria.
A detailed feasibility study of this area is required to confirm the reserve and possibility of mining from an extended area. As part of the feasibility study, the firm will conduct a 3-D seismic survey on the targeted 4.5 square kilometres zone. Besides, the firm will also analyse previous data and topography in addition to conducting exploratory drilling in the area, officials said.
Officials said the study will also assess the resettlement requirements to deliver a resettlement action plan. The outcome of the feasibility study will help determine the geological and hydro-geological conditions, mining method, actual reserve, yearly production rate and an estimated lifespan of the coal mine, officials added.