Oliver Kazunga Bulawayo Bureau
ZAMBEZI Gas and Coal Mine has postponed to 2023 its planned underground mining venture at the southern pit in Hwange district, Matabeleland North province.
The colliery, which at the moment is involved in opencast operations at its northern pit, had planned to commence underground operations next year.
Speaking by telephone yesterday, Zambezi Gas and Coal Mine operations director, Engineer Menard Makota, said: “We have rescheduled underground mining operations that we had initially planned for next year to 2023.
“We have decided to do the underground mining operations at the southern pit without the involvement of a contractor because the money that we are getting from coal supplies to the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) is paid at the prevailing interbank rate and this then makes it challenging for us to then pay the contractor in foreign currency.”
ZPC, which uses coal for its thermal power stations, is one of Zambezi Gas and Coal Mine’s major customer.
“Operations at the northern pit continue with the involvement of a contractor,” he said.
The coal miner has increased output to between 200 000 and 300 000 tonnes per month from between 100 000 and 150 000 tonnes at the beginning of the year.
The spike in production levels was largely on account of continued investment in plant and equipment by the colliery.
Eng Makota said his organisation has already procured machinery worth close to US$12 million from South Africa under a credit facility ahead of the planned underground mining.
Meanwhile, Zambezi Gas and Coal Mine has also put on hold plans to establish a gas production project in Matabeleland North citing prohibitive costs associated with the venture.
The mine has announced plans to set up a 750MW thermal power plant in Hwange and it is hoped that the project would be up and running within three years.
The envisaged thermal power plant would be built in two phases with 150MW expected to be produced under the first phase of the project.
The second phase of the project will see 600MW being produced.