Africa Moyo, Harare Bureau
HWANGE Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) is expected to haul 300 000 tonnes of coal beginning this month, as the coal miners eyes a return to profitability.
This was said here yesterday by HCCL board member Mr Edward Tome, during the 46th Kamandama disaster commemorations.
“. . . coal production is on the increase with expectations high that by the end of June the company will start producing more than 300 000 tonnes per month.
“We envision Hwange Colliery as a profit making, re-energised giant and a force to reckon within the region,” said Mr Tome.
HCCL management have embarked on integrated business management system to further enhance its competitiveness on the international market.
The company, which has been hit by under production in recent years due to weak management systems and recently due to malfunctioning equipment, believes it has turned the corner.
Mr Tome said their immediate priority is to ensure it meets the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC)’s coal requirements for electricity generation.
“Adequate supply of coal to the national electricity utility, will remain a priority while supply of profitable coal and coke grades to industry and export markets will ensure that the company operates profitably and meets its obligations in terms of the Scheme of Arrangement and monthly operating expenses,” said Mr Tome.
HCCL entered into a Scheme of Arrangement with its creditors so that it extinguishes its $352 million debt without hampering operations.
So far, the company has religiously adhered to the Scheme of Arrangement particularly on employee salaries.
HCCL has been showing signs of recovery driven by the ready availability and reliability of key equipment has generally been readily available and reliable.
This saw production rising by over 100 percent in the first quarter of this year to about 232 000 tonnes.
HCCL’s efforts to recapitalise and turnaround its fortunes got a major fillip following the arrival of supporting equipment for underground mining.
The equipment included additional shuttle cars, a transformer, LHD, and a roof bolter, among other critical components.
This is expected to allow the company’s 3 Main Underground Mine to operate at optimum level from an average of 10 000 to 50 000 tonnes per month.
Underground mining operations enhance HCCL’s product mix, thereby improving product quality, production margins and revenue.
There are plans to work with a European firm that will be conducting exploration and drilling at its new concession in Western Areas.
Preliminary indications are that the new concessions have an estimated underground resource of about one billion tonnes.
HCCL got its continuous miner, which was being repaired in South Africa, in August last year as it gears for underground mining.
The continuous miner – which accounts for 45 percent of underground mining activities – had broken down back in 2014.
When operating optimally, a continuous miner processes about five tonnes of coal per minute.
Last year, Hwange said it required about $6 million to repair all its equipment.
Underground mining helps HCCL to produce high value coking coal, making it a good addition to the company’s product mix and consequently volumes and profitability.