Zambian coal mine looking to increase productivity

13th September 2013

Zambia-focused coal mining company Maamba Collieries Limited (MCL) reports that it is on schedule with the construction of a $800-million coal-powered thermal electricity generation plant at its site in the Sinazongwe district, of Southern province in Zambia.

The project is the only large source of fossil fuel in Zambia and is served by a branch of the Mulobezi railway.

“The construction of the first-ever coal plant in Zambia is being fast-tracked through the 15 contracted companies that are carrying out shared and specialised works ahead of the October 2014 deadline, when the plant will offload its first power Mega Watt to the Zambian population, through Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco),” says MCL chairperson Ashwin Devineni.

Electric power construction company Shandong Electric Power Construction Corpor-ation is carrying out the engi-neering, procurement and construction of the main power plant. MCL was given a notice-to-proceed on March 26, 2012 and has done massive work since then.

Currently, there are two shaft units under construction at Maamba. The first is expected to be completed in October next year, while the second one will be commissioned in early 2015.

MCL has also been engaged to construct a 330 KV double circuit transmission line from Maamba to Muzuma substation, owned by Zesco. The Maamba Energy Coal plant will then offload its power into the national grid, through the double circuit transmission line, which will run a total distance of 46 km from Maamba to Muzuma.

The implementation agree- ment of the electricity genera-tion plant between the Zam-bian government through the Ministry of Energy and Water Development and MCL, was signed on September 16, 2011.

The Zambian government selected Singapore-based diversified organisation Nava Bharat Ventures as the strategic and technical partner for Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), to revamp and develop the existing Maamba coal mine for the purpose of producing and supplying coal to the new coal-fired power plant as well as selling coal domestically and internationally.

The project will be developed under public–private partner-ship with ZCCM, which represents the Zambian government, and this is being carried out on a build, own and operate basis.

The Zambian government is a 35% shareholder of MCL through ZCCM while Nava Bharat Ventures holds the remaining 65% of shares.

Presently, about 30% of the combined works related to the construction of the power plant have been achieved and the construction works have been intensified to meet the deadline, when the company will contribute the first 150 MW of electricity to the national grid, states MCL.

Increasing Productivity
“The development of an electricity generation plant using coal, through private sector invest-ment, is the main thrust for the people of Maamba in the Sinazongwe district in response to govern- ment policy to create mean-ingful jobs,” highlights Devineni.

The developments of the gen-eration plant has also assisted MCL in repositioning its min-ing capabilities to increase pro-ductivity beyond its projected 800 000 t/y of coal.

MCL mentions that, in recent years, productivity of coal mining dropped sub-stantially for a period of time, until the company invested in revamping systems. Previously, lack of invest-ment in the mine generally affected productivity and the welfare of the people of Maamba to a larger extent.

Devineni notes that, for many years, MCL has operated as a loss-making entity as it was regarded as a service pro-vider for industries that were powered by coal.

“In recent years, especially after the 1990s, the mine experienced massive retrench-ments, which affected the general economic posture of Sinazongwe district and, to some extent, that of Southern province,” he highlights.

Since the Nava Bharat investment in 2010, the eco-nomic turnaround for the district and company have increased, with the company investing $800-million to modernise the mine.

Social Investment
As a result of a large number of people employed by the company from the Sinazongwe district, MCL initiated free medical screening and treat-ment camps for the Sinazongwe community in May this year.

The company screened and treated 873 citizens and out of the 90 malaria tests carried out, 45 people were positive, received treatment from the medical team.

“For MCL, this is an indica-tion that malaria cases need more attention. The company does not intend to stop this exercise as corporate social responsibility is high on the list of our priorities,” says Devineni.

MCL also donated 250 high quality blankets to Maamba hospital handed over to the hospital management by Zambia’s Vice President’s wife Charlotte Scott.

Other screens such as cer-vical cancer screening and eye tests will form part of the next phase of the medical camp, after a significant demand for the two services were identified.

MCL mobilised four medi- cal doctors for the exercise, covering four areas that included gynaecology, sur-gical, dental and general body conditions. The surgeon attended to 73 cases of mainly hernias and growths. Out of the 73 cases, 13 were recom-mended for operation and further attention at Maamba Hospital.

The gynaecologist attended to 74 cases out of which five were referred to Monze General Hospital, while a dentist saw 44 cases and most them were referred to Maamba Hospital for teeth extraction.

“The forward-looking free mobile medical screening and treatment initiative seeks to add another profile to MCL’s wide-reaching corporate social responsibility programme,” he concludes.