HWANGE Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) says it is targeting to increase its coal production by 29.3 percent to 300 000 tonnes per month by June this year as it continues to pursue its scheme of arrangement and turnaround plan.
Coal output for the troubled colliery was at 232 000 tonnes in the first quarter of this year compared to 105 000 tonnes during the comparable period last year, said the firm.
Following the implementation of the company’s turnaround plan and scheme of arrangement entered into with its creditors in May last year, HCCL says its operations are on positive but remains on loss making.
“This quarter the company’s production plans are as follows: open cast mining production to reach 300 000 tonnes per month by June 2018; take delivery of the remaining underground mining equipment so that full production is reached in July 2018,” Scheme of arrangement chairman, Mr Andy Lawson, said in a latest update.
The ailing coal mining giant’s recapitalisation and turnaround efforts received a major boost recently after the procurement of underground equipment, which include the additional shuttle cars, a transformer and a roof bolter among other critical components.
The underground mine is the main source for production of the company’s coke and coking coal.
Its reserves have the best quality coal and a much longer lifespan to ensure the mine’s going concern status.
In 2015, the Government granted HCCL three new concessions in Western Area, Lubimbi East and West following concerns that existing ones were running out within five years. The new concessions, which are expected to prolong the lifespan of Hwange by 50-70 years, have an estimated resource of about 750 million tonnes of mainly coking coal and thermal coal.
HCCL targets to improve production volumes to 450 000 tonnes per month in the long-term.
On payment of trade creditors, Mr Lawson said they would start paying them in June next year and so far employee creditors were being paid their monthly instalments since December last year.
“These instalments will continue until all employees, current and former, are fully paid their arrears in the scheme of arrangement. Instalments to trade creditors will commence in June 2019. To date, 519 employees’ scheme balances have been cleared,” he said.
In May last year, HCCL creditors approved a scheme of arrangement, which stopped litigations and writs of executions, which had crippled the firm’s operations and it also allows the colliery to borrow working capital from banks.