Sable mulls methane use in ammonia production


KWEKWE – The country’s sole fertiliser producing company, Sable Chemicals, has revealed plans to use coal-bed methane (CBM) from Lupane, as feed stock in future ammonia production.

By Simon Phiri

This follows the recent move by the Kwekwe-based firm to stop the traditional electrolysis process of ammonia production and start importing the product primarily, due to power shortages in the country and unsustainable power tariffs.

Sable Chemicals has been using a government supported power tariff of 3c/kWh since 2009 until October this year, when an agreement was reached to take off the company’s ammonia manufacturing facilities off the electricity grid and also have it operate using the “current market tariffs”.

The fertiliser giant based its operations on total importation of ammonia.


Sable Chemicals chief executive officer, Jack Murehwa, said plans are underway to adopt an alternative, but effective model of producing ammonia using CBM from Lupane.

He said analysis to establish a processing factory and a pipeline to carry gas from Lupane to Kwekwe is already complete.

“In the long-term, Sable is working on an alternative ammonia producing technology, which uses coal-bed methane from Lupane as feed stock,” Murehwa said.

“The feasibility study for the factory and pipeline to carry gas from Lupane to Kwekwe is complete, while work is going on with partners on concept proving of CBM and gas field development in Lupane.”

He said the project to produce ammonia using coal-bed methane from Lupane will be completed in four years.

“From ground breaking of the project to commissioning, this project will take three to four years. We will, therefore, endeavour to put all our efforts to ensure that the ground breaking date for this project happens in the shortest possible time,” Murehwa said.

Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa revealed last week that, an investor has completed
exploration processes in Danadanda, Lupane and Binga and that plans to set up gas mines are underway.


  1. Mr Jack Murehwa please consider generating methane in and around Kwekwe. Methane can be generated from cow dung, chicken manure, pig manure and sewage. All these can be plenty in the vicinity of Kwekwe. These are also renewable. This can boost the economy of Kwekwe as well

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