Hwange (New Ziana) – The government has threatened to withdraw and re-allocate coal mining claims that are not being developed as part of plans to transform coal mining into a US$1 billion industry, a senior government official has said.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said government had adopted a ‘use it or lose it’ approach with regards to coal mining claims after realising that some claim holders were using them for speculation.
He said coal mining was central to the government’s goal of attaining a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023, and therefore holding mining claims for speculation would not be tolerated.
“We have a 12 billion (US dollar) target as a mining industry and of that one billion (US dollar) will be from coal and hydrocarbons. We have over 10 coal projects. All these projects are in progress, so on the one billion dollar target, we are way on course to achieving it,” he said.
“We actually have lots of coal special grants throughout the country and we are enforcing the use it or lose it (principle), and those who have special grants will lose them because they are sitting on them. What we want is production so that we generate employment and foreign currency,” Chitando added.
He was speaking after a tour of a coal processing plant in Hwange.
Chitando said coal demand in the country will sharply increase in a few years as some of the electricity generating projects underway come on steam.
These include the Hwange Power Station Unit 7 and 8, and another power station being developed by Zimbabwe Zinghxon Electrical Energy, which is expected to come on stream in the next three years.
The two projects will add 600MW and 150MW respectively, and require a combined 750 000 tonnes of coal per month.
Chitando said coal miners had assured the government they would be able to meet the increased demand expected.
Currently, the country produces 10 million tonnes of coal, and expects to double this in the coming few years.
Zimbabwe is also aggressively exploring export markets for coal, and two months ago the country signed a deal with an international company to export the commodity to India and Japan.