COAL producers in Hwange district have pledged to increase production by up to 100 percent to meet the needs of the economy and buttress Government’s efforts to transform the country’s fortunes. The coal mining industry is set to increase output from about 10 million tonnes to 20 million tonnes per annum after Government recently licensed 10 new projects meant to bolster economic growth.
The sector is already pursuing several mining projects including resuscitating old mines that had closed down as part of a drive to achieve a $12 billion target for the mining sector by 2023.
Speaking during a recent meeting with the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Winston Chitando, mining executives, under the Hwange Coal Producers Association, they said they were ready to play their role to bolster production but demanded increased support from Government.
“As Hwange Colliery Company we are going to increase our production from the 75 000 tonnes per month to 110 000t next month. “We have since taken delivery of our underground machinery, two shuttle cars and the continuous miner, which are operational right now,” acting managing director, Dr Charles Zinyemba, said. “We expect to receive the third shuttle soon while other consumables are on the way. “We are confident that through our turnaround strategies we will be able to increase our volumes especially with the anticipation of increased demand once stage 7 and 8 ZPC expansion project is complete.”
Since resumption of underground mining at 3 Main, HCCL has been producing 35 000t of coking coal against installed capacity of 50 000t with the company indicating that it intends to increase production. Makomo Resources general manager, Mr Kudakwashe Nyabonda, said given the necessary support the company has capacity to increase production from 85 000t per month to 120 000t.
Zambezi Gas, which is churning 60 000t, also indicated that it would double production. Meanwhile, Galpex who are producing 20 000t said they did not have the capacity to ramp up production. The companies, however, said the unavailability of diesel and pricing of coal was seriously affecting their operations and appealed for Government intervention. “The pricing model of coal against operational costs is not sustainable and this is worsened by the unavailability of fuel, especially diesel.
“Sometimes we have to go for weeks without diesel, which forces us to ground operations thereby affecting production and supply to the thermal power stations,” said Mr Nyabonda.
In an interview after the meeting, Minister Chitando said Government was working on addressing some of the issues raised by the coal mining sector. He said his ministry was committed to ensuring that the sector fully contributes to the growth of the economy. “These are short to long term issues. In the short term we are looking at increasing supplies to Zesa power stations while in the long term we are looking at the preparedness of the producers to meet the requirements of Hwange units 7 and 8,” he said. “The requirements are also towards the vision for the coal sub-sector to be a $1 billion sector by 2023 and we are quite well advanced in achieving that. “The pricing issue was addressed and then the fuel issue is in the process of being addressed. That’s why the Coal Producers Association was advised to meet with Government monthly and discuss administrative issues affecting the companies”.