Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
ZAMBEZI Gas has procured $15 million worth of processing plant equipment at its coal mine in Hwange with a target of producing 50,000 tonnes of the mineral per month. Chief executive officer Thomas Nherera told Business Chronicle work was in progress to instal a new processing plant at the mine, which is presently producing 20,000 tonnes per month.
“We’re in the process of installing a coal processing plant at the mine in a partnership arrangement with our local contractor to put up a crusher and a washing plant worth about $15 million at the mine,” he said.
“Before the installation of the processing plant, our project was small, which saw us producing raw coal of about 20,000 tonnes per month. We’re now targeting to increase our production to 50,000 of processed coal per month.”
The colliery employs about 60 permanent workers and the number is expected to increase as output rises. Nherera said Zambezi Gas production levels would also be determined by the size of its market share adding that the colliery was finalising negotiations to supply coal to Zesa.
“We also have plans to export coking coal to the north, that’s, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa. Locally, together with our partners we’ve secured a market share and we’re supplying coal to agricultural and industrial sectors,” he said.
Asked about their survival in light of competition on the local market, which is dominated by companies such as Makomo Resources and Hwange Colliery Company Limited, he said:
“Makomo entered into coal at a time when the market was dominated by Hwange Colliery Company Limited but went on to produce and now they command a large market share.
“We’re aware of Makomo and we’re also bound to claim our own market share”.
The firm’s coalfields have more than 200 million tonnes of reserves across an estimated 19,000 hectares.
Zambezi Gas ventured into a $12 million coal mining project towards the end of 2014 and has put on hold its $100 million coal-bed methane gas extraction project due to funding constraints.
In line with the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, indigenous shareholders control 51 percent shares in Zambezi Gas while the remainder is held by foreign investors.
Zambezi Gas was granted special gas and coal concessions in 2003 and 2007 respectively but lack of technical and financial resources delayed the investments from going beyond exploration stages.