ALL is set for the official commissioning today of the massive Muchesu Coking Coal Project in Binga, Matabeleland North province, which is being undertaken by a British investor, Contango Holdings.
President Mnangagwa is expected to arrive here shortly to lead the proceedings, one of the signature investment projects under the Second Republic, which is expected to yield high-value benefits for locals and the economy at large.
Muchesu Coal mine is a strategic coal asset in Southern Africa with over 2.6 billion tonnes of coking and thermal coal. It covers 19 236 hectares of the highly prospective Karroo mid-Zambezi coal basin, located in the established Hwange-Binga mining area in north-western Zimbabwe.
Coal is an integral element of the Government’s target to grow mining earnings into a US$12 billion industry by 2023, which will lay a strong foundation for Zimbabwe’s broad vision to transform into an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
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.
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.
In line with President Mnangagwa’s philosophy of ensuring that “no one and no place is left behind” in terms of development, the Second Republic continues to roll out transformative projects in different parts of Matabeleland, a region that has over the years been regarded as “marginalised”.
The region is witnessing massive infrastructural developments. Local resources, through budgetary allocations, are being used to implement most of the projects.
As part of its broader strategic plans, Muchesu 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.
Announcing the start of production in May, Muchesu Mine chief executive officer, Mr Carl Esprey, described the development as a “landmark moment” with significant potential across a variety of revenue streams.
He said the firm intends to focus on unlocking the potential of Lubu from this very solid foundation.
“This is a landmark moment for Contango. It is no small feat to bring a mine into production and something most junior mining companies never achieve,” he said.
Tangible benefits already visible in the community are the new houses built for villages displaced by the mine set-up.
While relocation can be unpalatable for some villagers, the presence of the mine is expected to trigger a string of economic spin-offs for the community including job creation while boosting Binga’s gross domestic product and the country’s energy sector, as well as exports.
Homesteads along the main road to Kariyangwe including Muchesu Secondary School will not be affected although they are a few hundred meters from the mine boundary.
The new homesteads are being constructed in a valley north of the mine and comprise three-roomed houses, which are at roof level, two round-thatched huts and a toilet.
Some of the families living within the mine site have since moved to the new stands where the company pitched some tents for them while waiting for the completion of the new houses