Coal miners hit back at Zesa
ZIMBABWE’s coal mining companies have hit back at State-run power producer, Zesa Holdings Limited, after the latter accused them of supplying sub-standard coal to the Hwange thermal power station, currently the biggest power facility feeding into the national grid.
The firms that operate mining claims around Hwange queried last week why the electricity producer had rushed to condemn them before bringing any of its misgivings to the table for discussion.
“The Coal Producers Association (CPA) would like to reiterate that the matters raised by Zesa have never been brought to our attention before and Zesa has not at any point raised concerns on the coal that current coal producers are supplying to ZPC (Zimbabwe Power Company),” the coal miners noted in a statement.
ZPC is the power generating unit of Zesa Holdings, which runs several power stations across the country, some of them running on coal-fired generation facilities.
These include the 720-megawatt (MW) Hwange Thermal power plant, which has emerged as a key power producer during a period when drought has affected production at the Kariba hydroelectric power plant.
The statement said individual contracts signed between ZPC and miners gave the power producer leeway to lodge complaints which are then taken to a joint operations committee that resolves disputes.
“All coal producers sign separate coal supply agreements (CSA) with ZPC for the supply of coal. The CSA sets out a procedure to ensure conformity to the required quality of thermal coal.
“The CSA allows ZPC to reject coal that does meet the agreed specifications. The CSA also makes provisions for the joint testing of coal in the event of a dispute,” the statement noted.
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Hwange Colliery Company Limited, Makomo Resources, Zambezi Gas and Western Coal are members of CPA, which is a committee of the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe.
Zesa chairperson, Sydney Gata recently claimed that coal mines, except Hwange, were “artisanal miners” that were supplying sub-standard product after they said they would struggle to return to business after heavy flooding triggered by torrential rains forced them to halt operations.
They feared that they could struggle to de-water flooded mines because over $100 million in cashflows was locked up at ZPC.
But Gata reacted angrily to their claims.
He said Zesa had been paying its dues and he would be meeting the “makorokozas” (artisanal miners) soon to “embarrass” them.
“I am meeting them (coal miners soon) to tell them that if they continue to supply rubbish coal, we will not pay. I will embarrass them. I was in Hwange (recently) and everyone is complaining about the quality of coal. Only Hwange (Colliery Company Limited) can complain, not all those makorokozas,” he said.
Hwange, is a listed coal firm which is majority controlled by the Government of Zimbabwe.
There were fears that floods that hit Hwange recently, some 700 kilometres north west of Zimbabwe, may spark a wave of fresh power cuts, dealing a blow to industries and domestic consumers already enduring serious blackouts as a result of cashflow problems among coal miners.