GOVERNMENT has completed exploration of gas reserves in the Lupane-Binga area estimated at over 23 billion cubic feet, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has revealed.
by MTHANDAZO NYONI
The development of the Lupane coal-bed methane gas project, according to Chinamasa, has the potential to boost the country’s energy generation capacity.
“The project has the capacity to produce 300MW of electricity. Progress has been made and an investor has completed exploration in Dandanda area in Lupane and Binga,” Chinamasa said presenting the 2016 National Budget in Parliament last Thursday.
Chinamasa said plans to invest over $2,1 billion towards setting up gas mines, power stations and dams in the Gwayi–Lupane area were underway.
He said Hwange Colliery was also diversifying into coal-bed methane production in Lubumbi, with exploration drilling initiatives underway.
Exploration started in 2014, after the government ordered Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, which has two coal-bed methane concessions in Lupane-Lubimbi area, to start exploring.
The government granted the exploration of gas a National Project Status in 2007, but did not take action until last year.
In April last year, Industrial Development Corporation managing director, Mike Ndudzo, told The Source that the government must put its house in order to attract investors for the project, with three ministries — mining, energy and industry disagreeing over who should take charge of the project.
Coal gas is a natural gas extracted from coal beds. In recent decades it has become an important source of energy being predominantly utilised in the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries.
Methane gas is mostly used in power generation and fertiliser production.
According to media reports, the country’s sole Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser manufacturer, Sable Chemicals, has embarked on a feasibility study to exploit coal-bed methane reserves in Lupane, as it seeks to migrate from electrolysis to new technology.