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New railway line to link Binga, Kwekwe

by Staff reporter
01 Aug 2023 at 06:27hrs | Views
THE newly commissioned Muchesu Coal Mining company in Binga District, Matebeleland North Province, plans to construct a new railway line linking its plant with Kwekwe as part of a broader investment drive to enhance economic activity and trade in the country.

President Mnangagwa yesterday officially commissioned the new mining venture, which is owned by a United Kingdom-headquartered investor — Contango Holdings, which has so far pumped US$20 million into the project.

This is one of the signature development milestones in the province and represents a huge stepping stone in Zimbabwe's modernisation and industrialisation agenda in line with the National Development Strategy (NDS1) and Vision 2030.

The new plant would produce 10 000 tonnes of coke per month, and with such volumes, an investment in rail infrastructure is critical for facilitating enhanced transport and logistics efficiency.

In his address, President Mnangagwa said the Government was in full support of the project as it buttresses development milestones under the Second Republic.

"They (Muchesu Mine) have promised to build a railway line from here in Binga to Kwekwe. They have also told me they will generate electricity that is enough to feed the country," said President Mnangagwa.

"They have also promised to build quality roads, I say congratulations. Please do not die before you fulfil these promises."

Robust infrastructure development is at the heart of the Second Republic's economic transformation agenda in line with the country's vision to achieve an upper middle-income status by 2030.

Already a similar rail project has been proposed by Dinson Iron and Steel Company, a Chinese investor behind the US$1,5 billion investment in the Manhize area of Chirumanzu District in the Midlands Province.

The company is in talks with different stakeholders as it gears to a 50km railway line from Mvuma to the steel plant. Disco has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government to undertake refurbishment and construction of a 1 000km long railway system to provide a dedicated, reliable, uninterrupted and efficient railway line to carry the company's products for local and export-imports routes.

The company is set to be one of Zesa's biggest maximum-demand customers and is expected to consume 100MW in the initial phase, which will be ramped up to 500MW.

Similarly, the Lubu coalfield basin is estimated to hold 2,6 billion tonnes of coal, which makes it one of the largest coal ventures in the country.

"So, they will mine and mine and mine, and the country will be getting money from Muchesu," said President Mnangagwa.

Matebeleland North has vast mining activities that are critical to the growth of the province and the country's entire economy. The province is the hub of the coal-to-energy value chain investments, which are expected to unlock up to US$1 billion in earnings under the coal and hydro-carbon focus.

Muchesu commenced operations with 10 000 tonnes being produced each month and this would be scaled up to 20 000 tonnes per month in the next six to 8 months. Vice President, Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who also attended the event said Binga must walk tall and celebrate the opening of the new business, which will transform its economic fortunes.

"The investment by Muchesu is a culmination of the re-engagement efforts spearheaded by President Mnangagwa," he said.

"The commissioning of the mine is a huge leap by the Government towards attaining a US$12 billion mining economy by year-end.

"President Mnangagwa has excelled beyond expectations and his leadership is unquestionable."

Mines and Mining Development Minister Mr Winston Chitando said the coming onstream of Muchesu was a reflection of the success of the mantra, "Zimbabwe is open for business" and President Mnangagwa's philosophy of "leaving no one and no place behind".

"We are moving towards an irreversible path of attaining Vision 2030," he said.

"We have a coal mine, which is on course to be a massive venture catapulted by the Government's economic policies. Every Zimbabwean needs to support President Mnangagwa's economic policies that will see every province enjoying the fruits of the country.

"The mine is poised to be a game changer in Zimbabwe and the benefits will transform the lives of the community."

Muchesu Coal mine chairman, Mr Andy Mhlanga, said President Mnangagwa had been supportive of the mine's operations from the start. He said the Second Republic's re-engagement strategy was bearing fruit by attracting quality investments.

"To date, 60 people are employed but at its peak, 500 would be engaged. We are moving the mantra ‘leaving no one and no place behind'," said Mr Mhlanga.

Early this month, the London Alternative Investment (AIM)-listed investor clinched another lucrative new 20 000 tonnes per month of washed coking coal off-take arrangement with TransOre International FZE (TransOre).

TransOre is a United Arab Emirates (UAE) registered entity managing a portfolio of global commodity supply chains and has pledged to play a central role in the Binga coal project for the benefit of Zimbabwe.

It facilitates the marketing, processing, financing, and transportation of essential raw materials. The scope of the new washed coking coal arrangement is dependent on the existing washing capacity at the mine site. However, in the event Muchesu is able to increase washing capacity further, TransOre has indicated its willingness to expand the size of the contract.

The TransOre contract is expected to replace the non-exclusive contract with AtoZ Investments (Pty) Ltd and is intended to complement the expected off-take arrangements being finalised with the global multi-national company, which is expected to complete its due diligence shortly.

The first off-take signed with AtoZ Investments (Pty) Ltd was to purchase 10 000 tonnes per month of washed coking coal. Recently, Muchesu indicated that it was inundated with prospective buyers for coke and subsequent by-products.

Source - The Herald
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