Coal miner, Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) will commission a new washing plant in this quarter as the miner moves to fully capacitate its opencast and underground mining activities.
Depending on its quality, coal needs to be “washed” with water and chemicals to remove sulfur and impurities before it can be burnt in a power plant. Coal washing, or coal beneficiation, is widely seen as an efficient method for getting the most from run-of-mine coal.
“The main thrust is to ensure that we fully capacitate our opencast and underground mine by addressing all bottlenecks currently affecting the mining process. The equipment mobilisation contract has a washing plant that will be located near the mining areas. This equipment will be commissioned during the second quarter of 2022. This will reduce hauling and processing costs,” acting MD Blake Mhatiwa said.
“The organisation will also go on a vigorous proactive maintenance drive to continue to stabilise the current washing capacity at both the HMS plant and the jig and floatation plant.”
The new washing plant is part of the new equipment sourced by HCCL for its underground mining operations worth more than US$15m in the next two years.
Revenue for HCCL grew 31% to ZWL$9.4bn in the year to December 31, 2021 from ZWL$7.2bn in 2020 attributed to a rise in sales of high value coking coal and regular product price adjustments done during the year.
Coal extracted from its open cast mining in the reviewed period stood at 1 804 663 tonnes, reflecting a 53% increase from the previous year.
HCCL shipped 733 102 tonnes of coal to Hwange Power Station, which is an increase of 11% over the previous year.
HCCL profit plummeted to ZWL$29m in the period under review from ZWL$2.7bn as the miner reported that coking coal sales volumes were limited by the washing capacity in the reported period.
Hwange’s focus in 2021 was on boosting production and sales of high-value coking coal, which has a high export value.
The company said; “Raw coking coal and clean coking coal sales increased by 226% to 206 564 tonnes in 2021 from 63 294 tonnes in 2020.”
At the 3 Main Underground Mine, coal production increased by 27% over the previous year, due to increased operational funding and credit facilities provided by spares suppliers.
During the period under review the company made an investment in repairs and maintenance as repair work on the Heavy Media Separation
washing plant was completed and the plant was recommissioned in April 2021.
On the downside however the company reported that their profits were weighed down by the exchange rate crisis and legacy debts which contributed ZWL$904m of unrealised losses on inflation adjusted terms.
In the outlook, HCCL said it is targeting to increase export sales volumes.
“The company aims to grow its market share of coking coal sales in neighbouring countries, as its coking coal and coke meet quality specifications in the ferro-chrome industries and smelters.
“Plans to develop dedicated solutions for the delivery of coking coal and coke products in the region are underway. The company will continue in 2022 with the momentum it gathered at the end of 2021 on exports, after it was negatively affected by Covid- 19 during the first half of 2021,’’ HCCL said.
The company has engaged a contractor to resuscitate beehive coke ovens to produce high value foundry coke which have a high demand in the export market.
HCCL suspended from trading its shares on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange after government , the largest shareholder in the coal miner, placed it on administration four years ago.
Grindale Engineering executive director, Dale Sibanda is the judicial manager of HCCL, assisted by Great Dyke Investments chief operating officer, Munashe Shava and Mutsa Remba, the managing partner at Dube, Manikai and Hwacha law firm.
HCCL used to enjoy a monopoly in coal production in Zimbabwe until the emergence of other players such as Coal Brick and Chilota Colliery, among others, which have chipped off its market share.