Resources group, Zambezi Gas and Coal Mine has a solid expansion project pipeline worth an estimated US$2 billion aimed at contributing to Zimbabwe’s energy self-sufficiency and general economic development.
The Hwange –based group has projects that include a US$30 million coke oven, US$30 million underground mining operation while the group also has plans to venture into thermal power production which is estimated to take between US$1,5 billion and US$2 billion.
This will become a timely intervention at a time hydropower is under threat from the adverse impact of climate change, causing prolonged dry seasons.
Already, the Zambezi Water Authority has ordered for suspension of power generation at Kariba, which is the biggest power producer, until January due to reduced water levels.
Due to limited domestic generation capacity caused by the low lake water levels and aged generation equipment, the country is forced to implement long periods of load shedding.
Zambezi Gas operations director Engineer Menard Makota said despite global calls to move away from coal-powered energy to other cleaner sources of energy, development into thermal production cannot be overlooked in the country right now although it has to be complemented by other sources of energy like solar.
“We have a license for a 750MW plant from Zera, (Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority) for thermal power production.
“I am sure you have heard about the reduced water levels at Kariba, it means thermal energy will be very critical to offset the reduced production at Kariba,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of a recent tour at the mine, which was part of the Association of Mine Managers of Zimbabwe (AMMZ) 50th annual conference and AGM programme in Victoria Falls.
As for the underground mining operations at Zambezi Gas, Engineer Makota highlighted that this was expected to commence anytime, subject to the availability of funding.
Of the total resource, open cast accounts for about 10 percent while the rest is underground, creating scope for the group to venture into underground mining.
The project requires an estimated US$25 million to US$30 million.
Currently, the coal miner produces between 120 000 tonnes to 200 000 tonnes per month from the open cast operation, following investments into plant and equipment.
“The vision for the underground mine started in 2017. All things being equal, we should start underground very soon.
Everything is hinging on capex availability. We are looking at US$25 million to US$30 million.”
Engineer Makota said this was a huge amount for a single bank in Zimbabwe, although there are other options the group might pursue.