By Oliver Kazunga
Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) has assured its employee creditors that it will comply with the provisions of a scheme of arrangement agreed upon last year.
The firm’s scheme of arrangement was sanctioned by the High Court in May 2017 following approval by the majority of HCCL’s creditors in April the same year.
As part of the contractual provisions of the scheme of arrangement, HCCL has to ensure partial monthly disbursement of outstanding wages to its employee creditors.
This week, the colliery employees’ wives staged a demonstration against the company over delays in payment of January salaries to their spouses.
In a statement yesterday, HCCL creditors scheme of arrangement chairman Mr Andy Lawson said the first instalment to the employee creditors was duly paid last December.
“The second instalment to the employee creditors for January 2018 is delayed, but will be disbursed in the first week of February 2018. The company has assured us that subsequent instalment will be paid monthly going forward per the provisions of the scheme of arrangement,” he said.
The firm has been paying its workforce 50 percent of their salaries since the beginning of last year and in June the company paid seven percent of the employees’ 36 months’ outstanding dues.
In December, the company also paid the allotted 2.6 percent monthly payment as per the scheme of arrangement.Through the scheme of arrangement and turnaround plan, HCCL intends to increase production and sales.
Coal production for the year ended December 31, 2017 was 1.3 million tonnes against 996 000 tonnes produced in the prior year.
“The company has furnished its plan for increased production and sales anchored on the following: full capacity underground production of coking coal from April 2018; improved haulage and processing facilities,” said Mr Lawson.
In 2015, the Government granted Zimbabwe’s, once largest coal producer, three new concessions in Western Area, Lubimbi East and West following concerns that existing ones were running out within five years.
The new concessions, which are expected to prolong the lifespan of Hwange by 50-70 years, have an estimated resource of about 750 million tonnes of mainly coking coal and thermal coal.
And through the implementation of the turnaround strategy, HCCL targets to improve production volumes to 450 000 tonnes per month in the long-term.
Last year, the Matabeleland North-based company signed two 25-year coal supply agreements with the Zimbabwe Power Company and Lusulu Power.
The agreements were part of the initiatives to support and sustain the colliery’s turnaround strategy. The Chronicle