Zambian Mines and Minerals Development Minister Richard Musukwa this weekend officially inaugurated Maamba Collieries’ (MCL's) most recent acquisition, a state-of-the-art, high technology surface miner, the company said on Saturday.
MCL thus became the first mining firm in Zambia to operate this state-of-the-art surface miner, which could be used to mine in layers by using a milling drum without the need to drill and blast, MLC said in a statement.
"MCL is no stranger to industry-defining mining equipment, being home to the legendary Bucyrus Erie 1260-W Walking Dragline, popularly known as the Zambian Queen, which held the record for the largest single mining equipment in Zambia for decades after its official commissioning in 1971."
This time around, MCL had chosen precision and modern technology over brute force, with the surface miner ensuring optimal efficiency while mining coal.
The high-tech equipment boasts a 3.8 m drum optimised for maximum productivity at minimum cost over Maamba’s soft rock. At the same time, the diesel tank with a capacity of 2300 litres makes it possible to operate the machine around the clock with only one stop to refuel per day, resulting in greater productivity.
The surface miner technology allowed extraction of coal and other minerals without the need for drilling and blasting as hitherto – an advancement which was in line with MCL’s commitment to sustainable mining, the company said.
MCL operates Zambia’s largest coal mining concession mines, both high-grade coal which meets the demand of the domestic construction sector and thermal-grade coal used in its thermal power plant to generate electricity.
Speaking during the launch, Musukwa said MCL was Zambia's largest independent power producer (IPP) and the second largest source of electricity generation in the country. Therefore, investments such as this made by Maamba Collieries should be supported by all key stakeholders.
“Such huge investment is made on the background of sourcing resource and finance from international lenders and market players – financial giants – which Maamba has an obligation to meet, and I want to urge third players to this mix – Zesco; Treasury – to ensure that they support Maamba by meeting their obligations so as for Maamba equally to meet its obligation to the lenders.
“If you look at the project and how it was structured, by this time Maamba should have been going on the second phase of the project, for which I am reliably told all the facets are in place but awaits resources.
"I implore our colleagues, especially Zesco and the Treasury, because I am aware this project exists on a guarantee from government and that it should be prioritised in terms of liquidation of its indebtedness so that they continue to support the development of the operation, the placement of jobs to our local people and also the confidence in an international market where they need to get resource to start and finish the second project,” Musukwa said.