By Nicholas Gochai
MATEBELELAND North province has this year targeted at least US$1 billion in coal revenue to the country’s fiscus, a senior government official has said.
The Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Richard Moyo, told delegates at Chamber of Mines’ annual conference in Victoria Falls last week that his province appreciated the role played by mining in national economic development.
“Mining is strategic to Zimbabwe’s plans to grow and turnaround the economy, with the sector accounting for over 60 percent of the country’s export receipts and contributing 16 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP),” the minister said.
Moyo reiterated government’s resolve to grow the country’s fiscus through mining alone to US$12 billion by 2023.
According to financial experts, coal accounts for one of the two biggest energy sources in Zimbabwe.
Although installed capacity now trails that of hydro power generation at Kariba South, it is critical as the base load anchor.
The country’s second largest power plant, Hwange Power Station, currently generates around 550 megawatts when operating optimally, but its rated capacity is 920MW, which is weighed down by advanced age.
Amid crippling power shortages, government has contracted Sinohydro to undertake a US$1,5 billion capacity extension to add 600MW while a further US$300 million will be spent on refurbishments.
Zimbabwe held 553 million tonnes of proven coal reserves as of 2018, ranking 38th in terms of the largest deposits of fossil fuel globally, which had a cumulative resource amount of slightly over tonnes.
The proven coal reserves are equivalent to 163 times the country’s annual consumption capacity, meaning the country had nearly 163 years left of coal in 2016 at current consumption levels.
“Matabeleland North province is expected to play a pivotal role in the implementation of the National Development (NDS1), ultimately feeding into the country’s vision of becoming an upper middle income country by 2030.
“My province is looking at mining providing the impetus for (national) economic development; we are going to leverage on the geological (mineral) endowments that are within my province,” Moyo said.
He said that Matabeleland North province had great potential to significantly contribute towards the national target of growing mining from a US$2,7 billion (2017) to a US$12 billion industry by fall of 2023.
“We are expecting coal to contribute US$1 billion towards the set target of US$12 billion mining industry targeted by year 2023, as a province we are making concerted efforts to increase the capacity of coal and coke production from the existing collieries,” he said.
Moyo said Matabeleland North was home to a number of coal mining companies, among them State-owned Hwange Colliery Company, South Mining, Afrochine and Jinan, Makomo Resources and Liberation Mine.
He said that significant progress had been made by hydrocarbons focused mining ventures in the predominantly dry province, which are under the province’s periodic survey, monitoring and assessment.
Moyo said it was important to be conscious of the fact that minerals were finite resources and should be exploited optimally in order to provide a platform for meaningful economic development and growth.