(Bloomberg) — Zimbabwe has lifted a ban on coal exports for three months due to low demand by Hwange Thermal power plant, which suffers frequent breakdowns, according to the Coal Producers Association.
Coal mining companies plan to export within the Southern African Development Community and overseas depending on port availability and other logistics, the industry lobby’s chairman, Linos Masimura, said in an interview. It is the first time the government has allowed for exports of thermal coal, he said.
“We were producing 250,000 tons a month, but Hwange Thermal is now taking less and less coal,” he said. “They are not able to burn at the rate of supply and they are now burning on certain days, so we now have a backlog.”
Hwange in western Zimbabwe has installed capacity of 920 megawatts, but is currently producing 420 megawatts. Zimbabwe Power Co., which owns the plant, is expanding by an extra 600 megawatts.
Currently, the plant consumes 5,000 tons of coal a day, but this will triple once two new units are commissioned in a year’s time, according to Kenneth Maswera, acting general manager for Zimbabwe Power Co., which has issued a tender for 15,000 tons of coal for when units 7 and 8 are operational.
“If someone decides to sell coal we don’t have a problem with that,” Maswera said in a separate interview.
The Southern African country has generation capacity of 2,100 megawatts, but produces about 1,200 to 1,300 megawatts and fills the shortfall by importing.