Maamba coal mine partners sought

Maamba coal mine partners sought

Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) Plc, the company holding government interests in the mining industry, is seeking partners in the management of the Maamba coal mine in the country’s Southern Province.

Though the exact strategy is yet to be disclosed, insiders say ZCCM-IH, as an investment holding company, would not be able to manage the coal mine on its own.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa last year tasked ZCCM-IH to manage Maamba Collieries Limited after a series of failed privatisation deals. The president said the decision was part of a government strategy to keep the coal miner operational until a strategic investor was found.

Mamba is said to be one of the biggest coal deposits in southern Africa, with a 100-year life span, but years of lack of re-investment have practically run the mine into the ground. The mine was last re-equipped 20 years ago and according to mine manager Coin Siakachoma, this has meant Maamba operates at zero profit.

Siakachoma said since the government decided to privatise Maamba 10 years ago, there have been no attempts to recapitalise its operations leading to annual production falling from an average of 30,000 metric tonnes to around 6,000 metric tonnes presently.

But he was confident that once ZCCM-IH fully takes charge of the mine this year fortunes are likely to turn. “We will see change and are confident that things will become normal here. ZCCM-IH, we are told, is currently looking for another investor to share the risks of this business.”

Maamba’s woes have not only negated the mine but other industrial players too. For example, the country’s sole cement manufacturer, Chilanga Cement Plc, majority owned by France’s Lafarge, has to import coal from neighbouring Zimbabwe’s Hwange Collieries.

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