Source: HCCL potential investor in sight – Sunday News Dec 18, 2016
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
HWANGE Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) is at the advanced stage of identifying a potential investor to partner with in the resuscitation of its strategic mining unit, the 3-Main Underground Mine as it forges ahead to turn around its waning fortunes.
HCCL managing director engineer Thomas Makore said the company was in the process of evaluating tenders to engage to contract a firm to assist to revive its underground operations.
The company’s 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.
“We are currently evaluating tenders for contract mining of our underground mining operations. Given the recent rebound of coal prices, especially coking coal, the resuscitation of our underground mining operations is a key and integral part of our turnaround plans,” said Eng Makore.
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Fred Moyo also acknowledged that the company was going through a tender evaluation process.
“They (HCCL) issued a tender out but I think they haven’t finished the adjudication process but I think it will allow us to have the underground mine opened early next year. The intrinsic value of underground coal is much higher than that of power coal.
“We are impatiently waiting for the bids to go through because it’s essential for the survival of the mine. The most profitable business of Hwange is coking coal and coke which is realised from its underground operations,” said Deputy Minister Moyo.
Eng Makore said the company was working at various measures aimed at offsetting its legacy accumulative debt of over $300 million which includes a salary backlog of 36 months.
“Our turnaround plan consists of a cocktail of measures aimed at increasing sales and profit and improving efficiency and cost per tonne. One of the measures is the Scheme of Arrangement wherein employee salary arrears will be addressed along with other creditor obligations through a payment plan. The other element is the unlocking of working capital facilities to fund operations and to generate cash from operations to service creditor obligations,” he said.
HCCL which has been struggling to pay the $200 staff nominal allowance consistently was allocated supplementary food packs to cater for 3 200 of its workforce under Government’s Food Deficit Mitigation Programme on Wednesday last week.
The food hampers comprised of a 50 kilogramme (kg) bag of maize and a 10 kg of rice.
“The support was facilitated by the Speaker of Parliament (Jacob Mudenda) and the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare (Prisca Mupfumira) in recognition of the plight of workers who have accumulated salary arrears of approximately 36 months. Our employees are our greatest asset and have shown resilience and strength in this very difficult phase of the company,” said Eng Makore.