‘Dragline pit coal reserves to run out by 2012’

COAL reserves at Hwange’s dragline pit, which supplies the country’s largest thermal power station, will run out by 2012, a development that may force government to import the commodity to avert a worsening power crisis.

Responding to questions from businessdigest, Hwange Colliery Company Ltd CEO Fred Moyo said coal reserves at the dragline pit would been depleted within the next two years while those at Chaba and 3 Main Underground will last for the next 17 years.
“In general terms the said figures are reasonably accurate, but impact will depend with type of mining methods applied at the end of the day,” Moyo said. “The depletion of coal reserves at the JKL pit is a cause for concern to the organisation as far as utilisation of the dragline is concerned. The dragline will not have future coking coal reserves to mine after JKL.”
Hwange Colliery Company has three operational mines namely JKL Opencast (widely known as the dragline pit), Chaba Opencast and 3 Main underground.
An expert report said reserves at Chaba and 3 Main mines, which produce industrial coal used in metallurgical industries, were projected to last until 2020.
But Hwange says resources will be depleted by 2027.
The depletion of the reserves will leave the colliery company facing survival challenges.
Commenting on the performance of the three mines, Moyo said: “JKL has started recovering after repairs to the dragline. However, recovery is rather slow due to shortage of dragline support equipment.”
He said this was the main source of coking coal and contributes 40% of the company’s output. 
“The 3 Main Underground Mine has experienced major equipment challenges and its contribution is 10% of total output. Chaba Opencast has worked well contributing 50% of total volumes. In terms of capacity JKL -40%, Chaba – 50% and 3 Main -10%,” Moyo said.
This month Hwange Colliery Company Ltd announced that it was disposing its non-core businesses to cut costs.
The disposed units would be leased out to small to medium enterprises. The non-core businesses include liquor outlet, social clubs, retail outlets, fuel stations and garages, schools, medical centres, recreation facilities and horticultural projects.
Most of these businesses will be leased out to small to medium enterprises in line with government’s indigenisation and empowerment initiative.
First preference will, however, be given to local entrepreneurs. Engagements with local SMEs to this effect is said to have already started.
Hwange will, however, keep some of the key social clubs and shops to guarantee traditional standards for the interests of its employees and the surrounding community.
Departments such as hospitals have already been partially commercialised. One of the hospitals is already being run by Premier Medical Aid Society.
Tenders have also been floated for the maintenance of the golf course, canteens and Coronation Island, among others.
For the interim period ending June 30 2010, Hwange recorded a significant increase in industrial coal sales by three-fold to nearly 320 000 tonnes compared to the just over 100 000 tonnes sold the previous year.

 

Paul Nyakazeya