TAURAI MANGUDHLA

Zimbabwe’s oldest coal producer, Hwange Colliery Company
Limited (HCCL), suffered a huge production setback because of working capital constraints
and antiquated equipment to close the first seven months of 2019 at 421,702
tonnes, behind the new kid on the block Makomo Resources, latest figures show.

Ministry of Mines and Mining Development production
statistics for August show that Makomo Resources’ production for the first six months
was 495,710. The Ministry did not report Makomo Resources’ production for July,
but in seven months Makoko beat HCCL’s by more than 70,000 tonnes, a difference
which is more than Hwange’s 60,000 average monthly production in the seven
months under review.

On a like for like basis, production at Makomo Resources for
the first half of the year was 170,000 tonnes ahead of Hwange’s output. The
figures come as HCCL last week reported in its unaudited financials for the
first half of 2019 that there was very little production in the first three
months of the year due to a combination of working capital constraints and
antiquated equipment.

HCCL said its contract miner stopped mining in mid-December
2018 and only resumed mining in August 2019.

“In addition, the company only resumed open cast mining in
March 2019. Owing to the above, production declined by 52% from 819,859 to
394,704 for the period under review,” HCCL said.

Hwange now is targeting to produce 250,000 tonnes per month inclusive
of the contractors’ contribution. This, however, seems a mammoth task given
power shortages and foreign currency constraints affecting most miners
nationwide.

“There are still constraints in the internal logistics and
processing section of the value chain,” says HCCL. Efforts continue to be made to
stabilise the operation to produce 120 000 tonnes per month in the 2nd half of
the year,” the company added.

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