Friday, May 30, 2008

Coal shortage stymies Zim power station reactivation

The three thermal power stations, which President Robert Mugabe’s government said had been reactivated before the March 29 elections, have once again “gone dead”.

A senior engineer at ZEDC tells Mining Weekly that, at its peak, last month, Harare thermal power station managed to produce only 30 MW, while the Bulawayo plant produced less than 20 MW.

“The thermal power stations have gone dead once again because the colliery has simply failed to supply the coal. ZEDC is also facing a serious cash crisis and cannot fund any project on its own. That is why the colliery has to be subsidised through a loan from NamPower, of Namibia, to increase coal production and keep supplies coming to the stations,” says the engineer.

At full capacity, the three thermal power stations produce up to 400 MW.

HCC MD Fred Moyo admits that there have been problems regard- ing coal supplies to many of its consumers, including power stations, farmers and mining operations.

“The problems we have been experiencing over the last few years, particularly breakdowns of machinery and others to do with our precarious financial position, have combined to cause a downturn in production. However, we are doing our best to ensure that we increase coal supplies to all our customers, locally and internationally,” Moyo tells Mining Weekly.

Zesa CEO Brian Rwafemoyo also confirms that the shortage of coal has forced a halt to the revamping of thermal power stations. He says the Harare thermal power plant is still operating, but at “highly irregular” intervals.

“Harare power station is operating but on an intermittent basis, which depends on the availability of coal. So the production is negligible and cannot be quantified in terms of its contribution to the national output.

“We are still engaged with HCC to find ways to improve coal supplies,” says Rwafemoyo. He states that the company’s cash-flow problems are expected to ease as soon as the $40-million deal with NamPower is implemented.

Through the deal, the Namibian power utility will help HCC to increase coal production and keep a steady supply to the Hwange power station, in return for increasing its allocation of 40 MW by an additional 30 MW to 35 MW.


No comments: