The Sunday Mail
The problems that continue to dog the country’s coal mining giant, Hwange Colliery Company, will not bring about coal shortages as other players in the sector are ready to rise to the challenge, a Government Minister has said.
The assurance comes in the wake of fears that the country could see a repeat of power generation decline like what happened last year when the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) was forced to scale down power generation at its Hwange plant as well as shut down its Munyati, Bulawayo and Harare stations due to coal shortage.
In April this year, Makomo Resources, the country’s leading coal producer, stocked the fears when it said its output had plummeted by 37 percent, year-on-year, largely due to lack of foreign currency induced problems and machinery breakdowns.
But Government, through Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, has said the big five coal mining entities — Hwange Colliery, Liberation Mining, Zambezi Gas, Monaf Investment and Makomo Resources — have more than enough capacity to beat the two million tonnes haul of last year and go up to 10 million tonnes in the next three years.
The jump in production, Minister Chitando said, is also expected to boost exports. Makomo Resources is currently exporting to the neighbouring Zambia, Malawi as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
While both private players are expected to rump up production, Government will this week reconstitute the Hwange Colliery board so that it can return the coal miner back to the revival trajectory.
Also on the immediate to do list is the sorting out of the boardroom discord at the firm which is emanating from the status of managing director Mr Thomas Makore, who says he remains in charge while the company has announced his departure.
“In terms of Hwange, the Hwange and MMCZ (Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe) boards will be reconstituted by end of next (this) week and the appointment of a managing director is the function of the board and not the Minister,” said Minister Chitando.
“At the moment, our big players — Hwange Colliery, Liberation Mining, Zambezi Gas — are ramping up production from around 30 000 tonnes a month to over 200 000 tonnes a month. We also have Monaf Investment which will be operating around the Binga area, and also Makomo.
“These five have more than sufficient capacity to meet Zimbabwe’s coal needs, even more than sufficient.
“Last year the production of coal in the country was around 2 million tonnes and the projection is that in the next three years it will go up to around 10 million tonnes, which will more than satisfy the coal needs of the country and will also benefit the export market,” he said.
Like all other minerals in the country, the coal sector has been attracting more investors occasioned by an investor and business friendly environment created by President Mnangagwa’s administration.
Speaking to investors in London in March, Minister Chitando was quoted by international news agency Reuters saying at least US$300 million had gone into the coal sector.
These efforts and a number of other mineral production boosting measures are in line with the Ministry’s deliberate policies and strategies to feed into President Mnangagwa’s vision of making Zimbabwe a middle income economy by the year 2030.