HCCL assesses potential partners

Source: HCCL assesses potential partners – Sunday News August 7, 2016

Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE country’s struggling coal-mining giant, Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) has started the evaluation process to identify partners or financiers to assist it in developing its two new concessions.

HCCL managing director Engineer Thomas Makore confirmed that the company had started assessing potential partners or financiers for its Western Area and Lubimbi East and West concessions.

He, however, could not be drawn into divulging much information pertaining to the company’s operations, saying he can only do so upon the lapsing of the closed financial period on 30 September.

“We are still in the process of evaluating bids for exploration and we are also working on the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) process we are still to complete,” Eng Makore said.

The Government granted the company new concessions at Western Area and Lubimbi East and West last year after the coal-mining giant was now facing a challenge to ensure that its mine lifespan was extended since the resources at its opencast concessions were on the verge of depletion.

The new concessions hold deposits in excess of a billion tonnes of coal consisting of both coking coal and thermal coal at Western areas and Lubimbi West while Lubimbi East has prevalence of coal-bed methane gas, giving HCCL an additional estimated life of mine of above 70 years.

The EIA is at the scoping stage and its being undertaken by one of the country’s reputable, environmental consultancy firm, Environmental Guardians Services (EGS).

EGS has done environmental consultancy work for various institutions across economic sectors mostly in Matabeleland region and the Midlands Province.

In the coal mining sector it has been engaged by China-Africa Sunlight Energy, Discovery Investment, Liberation Mining, Sable Mining, Chilota and Markrock Investment mines.

Presently, HCCL’s underground operations have a much longer mine life than its opencast concessions, which are on the verge of depletion.

However, its 3-Main Underground Mine has been non-functioning since early last year and $6,4 million is needed to revive it.
The 3-Main Underground Mine, is the main source for production of its coke and coking coal.

Eng Makore dismissed as misplaced and untrue reports by some sections of the media stating that the Government has stopped troubled HCCL’s proposed rights issue, demanding that a raft of reforms to turn around the company’s fortunes be implemented first.

The Government, which has 37 percent shareholding in HCCL, is expected to follow its rights by converting a $69,1 million debt into equity in order to reduce the liabilities of the coal miner, which has tax obligations that are outstanding.

Eng Makore said the creditors meeting for the scheme of arrangement which was previously scheduled for last month and postponed will be held in September.

“We are still preparing for our creditors meeting for the scheme of arrangement, so that’s on the cards. We were supposed to have the meeting in July and it was postponed to September. We will be talking about how we are going to pay the creditors, our rescheduled creditors payment’s plan,” he said.

HCCL also owes its employees $50 million in unpaid salaries and $25 million to the Mining Pension Fund.