Hwange (New Ziana) – President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday hailed the entry into large-scale mining by indigenous companies, particularly in coal production, saying this would help the country to achieve its ambition of developing a US$12 billion export extractive industry by 2023.
Eying the country’s huge, diverse mineral resource base, the government has come up with ambitious plans to rapidly develop the mining industry into a multi-billion dollar export-generating sector in the next few years.
Coal mining, of which the country has huge reserves of, is one of the areas the government is particularly paying attention to, given its key role also in power generation.
Speaking after touring a number of coal mining projects here, President Mnangagwa said it was pleasing that local companies had also become investors in the industry, previously dominated by multi-national companies.
In Hwange, the country’s main coal producing region, several indigenous companies are mining the commodity on a large, formalised scale, something President Mnangagwa welcomed.
One of these is Zambezi Gas and Coal Mine, which the President visited, and praised for its pioneering investment in the sector.
He said despite the formative challenges the company had faced, its future was looking bright, and offered government support as it pressed ahead.
“Yes, Zambezi Gas and Coal mine has gone through many trials and challenges, but the future is brighter than the past, you have the backing of the government,” President Mnangagwa said.
Until now, coal production in the country was the preserve of Hwange Colliery Company, but the company had for years been beset by a combination of financial, management and operational challenges which almost sunk it.
However, in the last few years, the government – as one of the largest shareholders in the company – poured in considerable financial and other resources to rescue it.
At its worst point, Hwange Colliery’s failings forced the country to import coal for its thermal power generators, which President Mnangagwa said was a huge shame for Zimbabwe given its abundant reserves of the commodity.
But he said, after touring the company, that Hwange Colliery Company was now on the mend, and would play a key part in attaining the ambitious mining industry export revenue target, as well as ensuring power generation.
“The government had decided to rescue the HCCL (Hwange Colliery Company Limited) after it was failing to sustain itself. I am impressed with the improvement as it had become a disgrace for the country to import coal while having abundant reserves,” he said.
He said the mining sector was key in Zimbabwe achieving its other goal of becoming an Upper Middle Income economy by 2030, which the government has set.
But for this to be realised, President Mnangagwa said the country needed ‘love, unity and harmony’ to prevail, and to stay focused and not be swayed by temporal challenges.
During the two-day tour of Hwange district, he also visited – among others – Dinson Colliery, ZZCC Coke Plant, Makomo Resources and ZZEE power plant, all companies involved in coal extraction and power generation.