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International relations

China pivots to old ally Pakistan for coal after Australia spat

Thar field designed for domestic power but might increase Beijing's options

A truck hauls coal out of Pakistan's Tharparkar region, the world's seventh largest coal deposit.    © Reuters

KARACHI -- As tensions grow between China and Australia, the superpower's main coal supplier, work is being stepped up in Pakistan's largest coalfield on a project conceived to feed local power plants, but which some experts believe might provide Beijing with an option for an alternative source of coal. 

After months of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some 500 employees of Shanghai Electric Power arrived in Pakistan earlier this month to work on the $1.9 billion Thar Block-I integrated coal mine and power project located in the country's southeastern desert region of Tharparkar.

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