Nqobile Bhebhe in Binga
Thirteen months ago, Ms Ester Mudenda, a mother of two in Binga, was unemployed but was lucky to catch wind that a new coal mining firm was hiring locals in various posts.
Reluctantly, she sent in her not-so-attractive curriculum vitae to the firm and quickly forgot about it. Ms Mudenda later got a call for an interview, and she responded.
She passed the interview and is now a security guard at Muchesu Coal mine, previously known as Lubu Coal Mine, owned by Contango Holdings, a British company.
The mining firm which announced commencement of coal production on Tuesday is one of the signature multi-million-dollar high impact projects that are flourishing under the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa.
Since assuming power in 2017, President Mnangagwa has made deliberate efforts to upscale developmental projects in Matabeleland region advancing the devolution agenda guided by the philosophy of “leaving no one and no place behind.”
Yesterday evening, a Chronicle news crew caught up with Ms Mudenda as she was knocking off from her day shift and spoke glowingly of the empowerment opportunities availed to females.
“I was not employed for many years, and as a single mother, I was getting worried. I then heard of a new mine which was recruiting locals. I reluctantly made an application and I later called for an interview and unexpectedly offered a job as a security guard.
“Daily, I am taking care of a 12 battery solar plant which is contributing to the mine’s energy requirements,” said an ecstatic Ms Mudenda, showing off the 12 solar batteries.
She added that she is hopeful of taking care of her young family.
Another beneficiary Ms Julia Mwembe, also a security guard who is taking care of five orphans said she is happy with the setting up of Muchesu Mine in her locality.
“In as much as the company is employing more locals as general hands, my wish which is what most locals are calling for is for the company to identify our people who have basic skills and send them for further training and come back more knowledgeable and inspire their kith and kin,” she said.
She added that several boreholes have been drilled in the community courtesy of the mine.
Ms Virginia Mugande said she is grateful that the mine has availed opportunities for her husband who was struggling to get work.
“I am very happy my husband has secured employment at the mine. We are now able to pay school fees for our children without any hindrance, and for that, we are happy,” she said.
Another villager who claimed to be among the first community members to be relocated, Mr Moreblessing Muzamba, said he is looking forward to occupying a three roomed modern house.
“I am among the phase one villagers to be relocated from the actual mine site. We were promised modern three roomed houses by the mining firm. Construction is ongoing, and that gives us hope that I will get my own house,” he said.
The Lubu Coal Project covers 19 236 hectares of the highly prospective Karroo mid-Zambezi coal basin, located in the established Hwange-Binga mining area in north-western Zimbabwe.
In order to associate with the locals, the miner has now renamed the Lubu project to Muchesu Coal. Muchesu is the local village in the broader Lubu region.
On Tuesday, the mine commenced production of washed coking coal, setting the tone for a major transformative high-impact project in the region.
The mining firm had been accelerating the assembling of machinery in recent months ahead of production.
The firm noted that stockpiles of coking coal have already been established by the Wirtgen Surface Miner, which can mine at a rate of up to 1,000 tonnes per hour of coking coal.
The firm has previously indicated that once the wash plant is calibrated and operating efficiently, it is expected to be able to produce 20 000 tonnes of washed coking coal per month.