Coal gasification still a dream


KWEKWE — The country’s sole manufacturer of ammonium nitrate fertilizer Sable Chemicals has said it will continue to rely on government subsidies to pay off its $30 million electricity bill as plans to switch over to coal gasification have remained a pipe dream.


The company’s chief executive officer Jack Murehwa told NewsDay early this week that plans to shut down the expensive electrolysis plant and turn to the cheaper form of manufacturing AN using coal were yet to be implemented.

“Sable continues to pursue the coal gasification project as an alternative technology to electrolysis. Most of the preliminary work for the project, which includes the feasibility study and coal testing of the Sengwa coal has been done,” Murehwa said.

He added: “Discussions are currently taking place on the coal resources parallel with the EPC (Electricity Power Company) contractor who shall be producing the final documentation that will be used in seeking funding. Finalising on suitable technology to replace electrolysis and moving on to doing the project and commissioning is a process that will take time and it is difficult at this stage to categorically state when electrolysis is going to be shut down is not possible.”

The company had initially set December 2012 as the deadline for the switch over to the $700 million coal gasification project.

Power utility, Zesa, charges as much as 10 cents per kilowatt for commercial energy use, but Murehwa said his company can only afford to pay three cents per kilowatt for it to remain viable.


  1. Money would be available if government had different investment policies. Where I live wholesale price of electricity is 2.5 to 3 cents. But these opportunities won’t occur if government policies stay the same which results in no job gains.

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