HWANGE Colliery Company Ltd (HCCL) says the 3 Main Underground Mine is back in production and expects to treble the output figures in the first quarter of 2018.
By MTHANDAZO NYONI
To that effect, the company says a full throttle mining operation is expected to start in the first quarter of 2018, with an expected mining output of 50 000 tonnes a month of coking coal.
NewsDay (ND) business reporter Mthandazo Nyoni interviewed HCCL managing director Thomas Makore (TM) about the coal producer’s operations and below are excerpts:
ND: How did HCCL perform in 2017?
TM: In 2017, Hwange Colliery’s production peaked at 300 000 tonnes per month, following the approval of the Scheme of Arrangement by its creditors in April this year.
The increase in production was 35% higher compared to the same period last year due to a number of factors, including the halt of writs of executions and attachments.
The Scheme of Arrangement coupled with dedication of limited funding to operations, implementation of a rapid results programme, codenamed Project Gijima, resulted in improved performance compared to last year.
ND: What major challenges did the company face and what were your achievements?
TM: Despite all the successes recorded this year, the company faced challenges with access to foreign currency.
However, the coal mining giant is working with a number of financial institutions to mobilise the required foreign currency so that the recapitalisation programme reaps optimum results.
ND: How many tonnes of coal have you produced?
TM: For the first half of the year, our production figures were around 30 000 tonnes a month before the figure rose to
300 000 tonnes a month.
Between November and December, we will mine approximately 200 000 tonnes.
ND: Have you started underground mining?
TM: The 3 Main Underground Mine is back in production and this is expected to treble the output figures in the first quarter of the New Year.
We have started production even though we have limited support equipment for the Continuous Miner (CM) because more than half of the equipment has still not been delivered.
A full throttle mining operation is expected to start in the first quarter of 2018 with an expected mining output of 50 000 tonnes a month of coking coal.
What is holding us back is the access to foreign currency to pay for the remaining equipment now ready for delivery in South Africa.
ND: What is your 2018 outlook?
TM: The company’s continued existence in the mining sector is also of paramount importance to the nation’s energy, manufacturing and agricultural sectors.
To extend its lifespan in coal mining the organisation has started preparatory work to mine in two new concessions.
So far, the company has submitted its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Western Areas new concessions, while Lubimbi concessions Environmental Impact Assessments are still in progress.
ND: What are your short and long-term plans?
TM: The company’s strategic thrust is to further increase production with emphasis of contribution from its high value and margin products such as coking coal and coke.
This traction will be complemented with efficiency improvements in order to reduce costs and to compete in export markets such as South Africa.
Availability of coal and related products for all sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy such as power generation, industry and manufacturing, tobacco and ferrochrome smelters underpins Hwange Colliery’s momentum to return to profitability.
Development of its new mining concessions poses an investment opportunity for its shareholders and lenders of capital.
With a mine lifespan estimated to exceed 50 years, Hwange Colliery will make efforts in a growing economy to deliver value for its stakeholders.