By Fairness Moyana
The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) plans to invest in coal production to feed its thermal plants as it is unhappy with existing coal mining companies who are failing to meet demand.
ZPC head of operations, Engineer Kenneth Maswera, told Energy and Power Development Minister, Fortune Chasi, during a recent tour of the Hwange Thermal Power Station plant, that initial steps have been taken to ensure the utility produces its own coal to augment supplies by private firms.
“Honourable Minister we are considering mining coal ourselves as a long-term measure to avert the current challenges. We had been granted mining rights in the Western areas. However, the structure of the company we had partnered with changed and this affected the implementation of the project. We may still pursue the issue plan,” he said.
At a time the country is grappling with power shortages owing to subdued electricity generation at the thermal and hydro power stations, ZPC said inadequate coal supplies were crippling its operations.
Hwange Power Station general manager, Engineer Arnold Chivurayise, said mining companies were struggling to meet the power station’s daily demands for thermal coal and peas.
Hwange Colliery Company Limited, Makomo Resources and Zambezi Gas and Coal are the major suppliers of coal to ZPC’s thermal power stations.
“The major problem is that we are not getting enough supplies from Hwange Colliery, Makomo and Zambezi Gas. Our target stock is 300 000 tonnes, which is equivalent to 45 days of power generation at 600MW. However, we have 84 729 tonnes, which is equivalent to 11 days generation,” said Eng Chivurayise.
“Hwange Colliery is supposed to supply 4 000 tonnes per day, which translates to 120 000 tonnes per month but has been hovering around 1 500 tonnes daily. Makomo, which is also expected to deliver 120 000 tonnes monthly is currently managing a daily delivery of 2 400 tonnes against a target of 4 000 tonnes.”
Meanwhile, Zambezi Gas with a 60 000 tonnes per month target is delivering 3 000 tonnes per day against a target of 4 000 tonnes.
Hwange Colliery and Makomo have also been undersupplying coal peas to Munyati, Bulawayo and Harare small thermal stations. Eng Chivurayise said the companies had advised them that they were facing capacity challenges in meeting demand brought on by high production costs as well as unavailability of diesel.
“We have since engaged the companies over the issue and they have indicated to us that they are facing various challenges such as high production costs, limited foreign currency to service key mining equipment, delivery system, diesel availability and inadequate haulage capacity amongst others,” he said.
Eng Chivurayise, however, assured Government that they would continue to engage coal miners to improve supplies ahead of the rainy season through stockpiling.
“We are engaging coal producers to increase their supply ahead of the rainy season. We intend to increase our stockpile since during the rainy season we have challenges of coal getting wet. When we have a stockpile and because of the mechanism we employ, the coal doesn’t become muddy,” he said.
“This forces us to resort to using diesel to increase temperatures. However, we have started restocking to ensure that we continue producing. As part of solutions we suggest prepaying these companies to capacitate them. They need to be adequately capacitated to be able to produce the right volumes of coal.”
Eng Chivurayise said a Chinese contractor, Zimberly Investments, had expressed interest in supplying 10 000 tonnes of thermal coal to Hwange Power Station with a trial run currently underway. The Chronicle