HWANGE, ZIMBABWE, July 3 — Four-year-old Makomo Resources has overtaken the established Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) to become the biggest coal miner in Zimbabwe, according to the latest data from the Chamber of Mines.

Owned 60 per cent by local interests and 40 per cent by foreigners, Makomo is among the 20 companies given special grants to mine coal in 2010 in Matabeleland North Province where its concession covers 7,000 hectares.

The mine’s production manager, Bernard Zvigumbu, told New Ziana that current operations only covered 500 hectares.

The latest data from the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines shows that coal production in the country shot up 179 per cent to around 4.9 million tonnes in 2013. “Makomo Resources emerged in 2013 as the largest coal producer, contributing 74.5 per cent of total production,” the chamber said.

Makomo Resources director Raymond Mutokonyi said the firm had invested more than 200 million US dollars in its operations since it commenced operations. “Further investments are anticipated,” he added.

The dominance of Makomo Resources will likely be short-lived as the Chamber of Mines noted that there remained huge potential to increase production in the sector on the back of investments made by HCCL last

Dogged by capacity constraints and working capital challenges Hwange’s production averaged 150,000 tonnes a month in 2013. Makomo on the other hand could produce up to 300,000 tonnes a month but
was held back by low demand.

HCCL Chairman Farai Mutamangira recently admitted that emergence of new players had hit the triple-listed firm’s once dominant position hard. “In the past twenty four months, HCCL has come under increased competition from Makomo Resources, Coal Brick (W & K) and Chilota Colliery. This competition has eaten into the market share of HCCL,” he said recently.

Makomo recently acquired a 14 million USD coal washing plant from South Africa which is expected to boost production of premium coal products which would be exported to the region. The plant is expected to be commissioned this month.

Makomo also acquired 12 100-tonne trucks as well as six front-end loaders.

Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) is biggest customer of Makomo, taking up more than 97 per cent of its production. Makomo also supplies the agriculture industry.

Coal products that Makomo is currently producing include thermal, peas, rounds, duff, nuts and cobbles.