Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Maamba Collieries says new processing plant underutilised
By Gift Chanda
Fri 07 June 2013, 14:00 CAT

LOW demand for coal in the country has forced Maamba Collieries' newly-acquired coal handling and processing plant in Sinazongwe to be underutilised, the company said yesterday.

The country's largest coal producer, which is majority owned by Singapore's Nava Bharat, procured a Coal Handling and Processing Plant (CHPP) for about US $23 million to boost operations at its mine in Sinazongwe.

But the company says the plant, which has the capacity to process 1.2 million tonnes of coal per year and supply the whole Zambian industry without interruption, was not fully utilised because of low demand for coal in the country.

"Presently, Zambia does not have capacity to utilise the volumes of coal that the new CHPP can offload on the market. This means that even if all coal users purchased their coal at MCL, the plant would still remain underutilised," company head of corporate affairs, Janardhan Lavu, said in an emailed statement.

Maamba Collieries resumed operations in 2011 and has since spent over US$108 million on modernising the mine.

Lavu, however, said that there were some unscrupulous transporters who had resorted to tarnishing the company's image.

"Some unscrupulous transporters have resorted to offloading the coal before they reach the destinations that they are assigned to deliver coal to by the buyers. The offloading is done between Maamba and Lusaka, mostly between Maamba and Batoka. Some of our customers have complained of receiving coal which does not meet their specifications or in short supply," he stated.

"Further concerns are that the coal is impure and a mixture of coal and dust."

Lavu said this was of great concern to the company.

"We therefore wish to clarify this matter. The coal we produce is of utmost standard and is subjected to high levels of technical washing and screening using the modern CHPP. The coal is also carefully washed, screened and stockpiled according to the specific sizes to meet the requirements of our customers who need the product in varying sizes," he said.

Lavu advised Maamba Collieries' customers and their assigned transporters to take necessary measures to ensure that the coal loaded onto their assigned trucks in Maamba was the same coal being delivered to them.

"Maamba Collieries Limited will not accept liability for any coal diverted, mixed, re-loaded, tampered with in any way before it arrives at the intended destinations," said Lavu.

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