Coal miners get ultimatum

Source: Coal miners get ultimatum – DailyNews Live

Ndakaziva Majaka      28 June 2017

HARARE – Mines minister Walter Chidakwa has threatened to cancel mining
licences of two coal miners, Monaf Investment (Monaf) and Appex Petroleum
(Appex), due to non-performance.

Chidakwa said government was not happy with lack of progress by the two
coal miners which received grants seven years ago to mine coal in Lubu,
Lasulu and Binga.

The duo’s mining licences will expire this year and there’s a huge
possibility that the licences may not be renewed in January next year.

“The law says that we must give them six months and renewable in another
six months and then look at the activity that is taking place on the
ground.  If that does not happen, the government can in fact withdraw the
exploration grant that would have been given to them,” he told Senators
last week.

“I do not know whether they are in their first six months or in their
second six months.  I am aware that once it reaches 12 months with no
activity on the ground, we should in fact withdraw the special grant and
enable somebody else to do the exploration,” Chidakwa said.

Both companies received their grants in 2010 with the intention of setting
up thermal power stations and coal mining ventures, a development that was
expected to uplift impoverished Binga.

The mines were also expected to complement power generation by Hwange
Thermal Power Station, Kariba Hydro-electricity Power Station and other
power stations to help the country plug its power deficit.

However, there has been little progress on the ground.

This comes as Zimbabwe’s coal output – integral to Zimbabwe’s energy
industry – plummeted 38 percent at the end of 2016 to close the year at
2,7 million tonnes from 4,3 million tonnes, crippling thermal electricity
generation in the country.

Monaf was issued with Special Grant, SG 4686, covering 19 236 hectares, in
March, 2010 for a period of three years.

The Special Grant – known as the Lubu Coalfields – is situated 60km due
South of the town of Binga in Matabeleland North.

According to Chidakwa, over the three-year tenure, Monaf embarked on an
exploration programme.

During this time, the miner spent approximately $4,1 million on analysis
of more than 500 samples and hired experts to complete the design and
management of the exploration programme.

“Then the first tenure expired in 2013, the company then applied for an
extension of the Special Grant which was granted for a period of two
years.  This started from January 8, 2016 to January 7, 2018.

“During the almost three years of waiting before the renewal, the camp was
dismantled, workers were disengaged, access roads were destroyed by rain
and there was no maintenance.  What they are doing now is to re-mobilise
funding in order to start the activities.

“We hope that re-mobilisation exercise will be completed soon and it will
enable them to continue with the exploration programme,” the minister

With regards Appex, Chidakwa said the miner was granted Special Grant 4949
and 4950 70km South-East of Binga, covering 2 000 hectares.

“During this tenure, an exploration programme was started which included
Phase 1 exploration drilling, termed twin holes, which was aimed at
ascertaining confidence in the historical data from the Shell Coal Company
and nine diamond drill holes were completed.

“Phase two exploration drilling had planned 30 diamond drill holes but
then completed 23 diamond drill holes on a grid roughly one km by one km,
meant for resource and quality data determination.

“The tenure expired in 2013 and the company applied for an extension of
the Special Grant, which was granted for another two years, starting from
January 8, 2016 to January 7, 2018.

“We hope that this will enable them to do their work. What they have been
doing is simply to review historical data.  That is it in terms of Lubu,
part of it is really reviewing historical data,” he said.