Construction of briquette plant progresses 40%

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Tavan Tolgoi Tulsh LLC has begun constructing a new briquette plant complex to facilitate the provision of improved fuel to consumers in the eastern part of Ulaanbaatar. As of July 6, the project started almost a-year-and-a-half ago saw 40 percent completion rate.

Situated in a 70-hectare field in Nalaikh District, the new complex is projected to produce 600,000 tons of standard briquettes with minimal soot emission annually. Tavan Tolgoi Tulsh estimated that this would better satisfy the demand for improved fuel, create jobs for more than 1,000 people and help mitigate air pollution, one of the most pressing issues in Ulaanbaatar, by 70 to 80 percent.

The project has already started operating a trial run at the first plant. The company’s general engineer M.Javkhlan, who is leading the briquette plant project, said, “This (trial plant) is capable of producing 30,000 tons of coal per day. If it operates without error for 72 hours, we can begin production.”

If the first plant is successfully launched, the company plans to put into commission the second plant on September 1, while the third is fully built by September 15.

“If operated 24 hours a day, the three plants can produce 180,000 tons of briquette a day and 1.75 million tons a year. Eliminating technical failures and risks, we can produce at least 600,000 tons (before commissioning in September),” said the general engineer.

According to project leader, 80 percent of equipment have been installed and as soon as it’s complete, staff will move on to construction work. The construction work of the first plant is at 50 percent completion rate, but overall, 40 percent of the project has been executed.

‘Consumers will not suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning’

Since city residents shifted to improved fuel last year, the National Emergency Management Agency received 25,559 reports from 976 individuals associated to carbon monoxide poisoning from burning briquettes.

Tavan Tolgoi Tulsh believes that these accidents were caused due to hastened preparation of briquettes to meet the heightened demand during winter. Unable to process briquettes in heat for the required time, the outputs were exposed to the cold and frozen, causing carbon monoxide poisoning when burned afterward. The company plans to prevent such accidents from occurring this winter by launching another plant. The existing and new plants are expected to produce a total of 1.2 million tons of briquettes in preparation for winter.

The company promised to deliver high-quality, well-prepared and reliable briquettes this winter. To reach remote areas, road and infrastructure projects are underway and Tavan Tolgoi Tulsh is discussing to operate additional 10 camps, 17 storages, and 390 sales points to improve fuel supply, according to M.Javkhlan.

“Briquettes will fully dry within two to three hours at room temperature after the drying process. The public will never use frozen briquettes again. Assuming that no technical failure occurs, each household will be able to use more than six bags of briquettes,” he added. “Since people have now learned how to burn briquettes, I’m hoping that cases of carbon monoxide poisoning and deaths will become lower.”

Due to the unusually large number of deaths and accidents linked to briquettes, city authorities broadcasted and published recommendations on safe usage of briquettes through over 250 media outlets between December 2019 and March 2020. They also sent 2,258 civil workers to patrol ger areas and provide assistance on using briquettes to prevent accidents and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Total cost yet to be confirmed

Besides the construction of three plants, the project includes development of infrastructure, machinery and equipment. Therefore, the total cost of the project is still unclear, said the general engineer.

Seven companies, including Tavan Tolgoi Tulsh, are working on the development work, while eight companies are working on the blueprint.

Tavan Tolgoi Tulsh has signed an agreement with the technical vocational training centers of Nalaikh District and Zuunmod soum of Tuv Province to begin training plant workers on August 1. Reportedly, the new complex will create new jobs for around 1,000 people, with 200 being engineers and the rest technicians. The first plant will require 35 workers.

The company plans to open an accommodation for the first 300 employees on July 15.

It is also building a railway track between Tavan Tolgoi mine and Zuunbayan Station in Dornogovi Province to ease transportation of coal to the power plant and consumers in Ulaanbaatar and China. Currently, the company is sending raw materials from Ukhaakhudag mine in Umnugovi Province to Tuv Province, from where raw materials are transported to existing and new plants.

Once the said railway is built, Tavan Tolgoi Tulsh will be able to transport coal from Maanit Station in Bayan soum, Tuv Province to the new plant complex, which takes 2.8 kilometers to reach by road. This 2.8-kilometer road is being renewed right now to suppress dust and debris. It is scheduled to open by November this year.

Dulguun Bayarsaikhan