Following President Mnangagwa’s visit to Hwange last week, the country’s largest producer of thermal coal, Makomo Resources, says its special grant has the capacity to go for the next 48 years producing an average of three million tonnes.
The President bemoaned the fact that Zimbabwe was at one time forced to import coal despite its massive ore reserves most of which are still available at the less expensive open cast mining.
President Mnangagwa was in Hwange on a two-day working visit of coal projects and toured eight projects where it emerged that Zimbabwe is poised for an energy boom that will see the country exporting power.
The boom in the coal sector is part of Government’s mining sector 2023 milestone that seeks to grow mineral exports to US$12 billion annually up from US$2.7 billion in 2017.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando also noted at the end of the President’s visit that evidence on the ground was that coal and its sub sector would be the first to attain and even surpass its 2023 target which is US$1 billion.
In an interview, Makomo Resources director Mr Raymond Mutokonyi said his firm was utilising a special grant measuring just 7 000 hectares and noted its huge potential.
The special grant, he said, still has up to 18 years mine lifespan of open cast operations at three million tonnes of thermal coal annually. From there, the special grant has the potential of a further 30 years producing an average of three million tonnes annually.
“We have a small special grant of 7 000 hectares. On that special grant alone, we still have life of up to 18-year open cast mining producing three million tonnes annually. If we deplete that resource, we can still do another 30 years of underground mining producing the same three million tonnes of thermal coal a year.
“We will obviously want more land to operate so I think it’s fair to say our challenge is to work on what we have in a manner that will impress Government so that we can then be granted even more land to utilise,” he said.
The New Dispensation has managed to get mining title holders utilise their concessions through the “use it or lose it” principle which is meant to dissuade speculative holding of mineral rich deposits.
Makomo, Mr Mutokonyi said, has a plant that has capacity to produce 300 000 tonnes of thermal coal per month. At full throttle, it employs 1 000 workers, but it is currently operating with 650 workers due to coal price-related constraints.
This capacity is a result of cumulative investment amounting to US$80 million since they started operations.
Thermal coal is going for US$30 per tonne on the local market against a regional best of US$40 per tonne in South Africa.
Makomo’s willingness to take up even more deposits is in sync with Government’s plans towards energy self-sufficiency.
Speaking in Hwange last week, President Mnangagwa said it was unacceptable that Zimbabwe imports power.