PRESIDENT Mnangagwa is expected to officially commission the massive Lubu Coking Coal Project in Binga district, which is being undertaken by a British investor, Contango Holdings.
Binga coal project
The mine started production recently and is one of the transformative development strides in Matabeleland North province given its impact on jobs, community development and downstream industries.
According to the investor, the official opening is set for July 21 but the mine started production of washed coal a few weeks ago.
The mining firm has been accelerating the assembling of machinery in recent months and this has been facilitated by the successful £7,5 million fundraising in October.
Coal mining is expected to contribute significantly to the realisation of a US$12 billion mining industry by end of this year.
Contango Holdings Plc chief executive officer, Mr Carl Esprey said the mine has a world-class resource and is eager to establish a fully integrated operation with a number of different revenue streams.
“We are honoured that His Excellency, Dr Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe, will provide a formal ceremonial opening of Lubu next month. We have a world-class resource in excess of two billion tonnes of coal, which is now in production,” he said in a latest update.
ContangoChief executive officer, Mr Carl Esprey
“It is our intention, along with our partners, to establish a fully integrated operation with a number of different revenue streams,” said Mr Esprey.
The coming on-stream of the mine feeds into the Vision 2030 agenda as hundreds of jobs will be created for locals directly while others will be employed by downstream industries.
Announcing the start of production, Mr Esprey said the firm intends to focus on unlocking the potential of Lubu.
He indicated that focus for the company now is on how to best expand operations at Lubu.
“We have advised previously that we intend to manufacture coke at Lubu, which is expected to increase our margins from US$80/tonne to over US$300/tonne at current pricing.
“We have continued to pursue this avenue in discussions with potential strategic partners. The sheer scale of Lubu opens up significant potential across a variety of revenue streams and we intend to focus on unlocking the potential of Lubu from this very solid foundation,” he said.
By exploiting its huge untapped coal deposits, Binga, which shares the borders with Hwange, Lupane, and Gokwe districts, is primed to leapfrog development and increase its contribution to the mainstream economy through enhanced economic activities covering mainly tourism, mining, fishing and agriculture.
The investment comes at a time when the Government under the Second Republic is taking deliberate steps to develop Binga in line with the devolution agenda, which aims to ensure inclusive development across the country.
The firm noted that stockpiles of coking coal have already been established by the Wirtgen Surface Miner, which can mine at a rate of up to 1 000 tonnes per hour of coking coal.
The Surface Miner continues to extract coking coal and is increasing the wash plant stockpiles further.
The company said that it will continue to undertake studies on washed coal production to ensure optimisation.
The firm has said that once the wash plant is calibrated and operating efficiently, it can produce 20 000 tonnes of washed coking coal per month.
The first offtake was signed with AtoZ Investments (Pty) Ltd to purchase 10 000 tonnes per month of washed coking coal.
As part of its broader strategic plans, Contango Holdings has also cast its eyes on producing coke by installing coke batteries that process coking coal into coke for the industrial and ferro-alloy industries.
The company says it has received heightened interest from a number of potential partners and off-takers with respect to the manufacture of coke at Lubu.
The coal mining project is another example of growing investor confidence in the country under the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa.