Anticipating more coal demand, Hwange is expanding production after a 49.5% output lift in 2021


Hwange Colliery says coal production rose 49.5% last year, and the company has laid out a plan to mine more coal this year.

The plan includes a US$15 million deal with an equipment supplier, and opening new mining areas to increase coal production.

Despite a global campaign against coal, Zimbabwe is ramping up output to meet an anticipated increase in demand from new power stations and coking coal to feed steel producers at home and abroad.

Hwange reports that coal sales volumes rose by 39% last year, but were held back by the impact of COVID-19 and low cash-flows. Hwange mined more coal from both its opencast and underground mining operations.

“Total coal mined by opencast operations was 1 804 663 tonnes, a 53% increase in production from the previous year. A total of 733,102 tonnes of coal was delivered to Hwange Power Station during the course of the year, which was an increase of 11% from previous year,” Hwange says.

Underground mine coal production was 27% higher than in 2020, as the company benefitted from operational funding and credit from spares suppliers.

Hwange: Expansion plans

Hwange is taking on a new mining contractor to increase thermal and industrial coal output by 40 000 tonnes this year. The company plans to open new mining areas. This includes starting the long-delayed development of the Lubimbi coal fields.

Says Hwange: “The Company is also looking at the prospects of electricity generation at Lubimbi to complement the mining process.”

To meet its target, Hwange has agreed a US$15 million deal with a supplier for delivery of new underground equipment over the next two years.

“This arrangement will enable us to increase production to 50 000 tonnes per month in the second half of 2022, then 100 000 tonnes per month first half of 2023 and 150 000 tonnes per month in the last quarter of year 2023 compared to the current production of 15 000 tonnes per month.”

In March, the contractor at Hwange’s Chaba mine acquired new equipment from Barzem, the local distributor of CAT earthmoving machines.

Hwange is also looking to increase output of coking coal, in demand from steel makers. Production from its JKL pit will rise to 90 000 tonnes per month by end of 2022.

Two new power units of a combined 600MW, under construction at Hwange power station, will drive up coal demand when complete. The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) expects to commission Unit 7 in November and Unit 8 in April 2023.

Smaller thermal power stations missed their power output targets in the first quarter of 2022 partly due to low coal stocks, ZPC says.