BULAWAYO – Portuguese conglomerate Mota-Engil will start coal mining in Hwange at the end of this month after securing a $260 million contract mining deal with Hwange Colliery Company early this year, an official familiar with developments said.
The Portuguese firm secured a five year mining contract with HCC at the beginning of the year. The contract includes drilling works, detonation, load and transportation of coal at the Colliery’s Chaba opencast mine.
An official with Hwange Colliery told The Source that officials from Mota-Engil have been shown the area where they will mine.
“The contractor will be running its business autonomously and independent of our operations and will deliver the coal to our various processing plants,” said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
But the official said there were negotiations to hire out some of Hwange workers to the Portuguese company.
Last year, the cash-strapped coal miner temporarily sent 1 000 workers – nearly a third of its total workforce – on unpaid leave.
The official said Mota-Engil has indicated that it can produce a minimum of 100 000 tonnes of coal per month.
HCCL put out a tender last October for contact mining services at its Chaba opencast citing its ageing equipment that was no longer bringing optimum output and expensive to maintain.
The company has been struggling to maximize operations and pay workers. It is sitting on a debt of $160 million and owes workers more than $14 million.
– The Source