Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) located in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe is the country's biggest coal mining firm. It has a number of mining claims specialising in the extraction and production of the "black diamond" in Zimbabwe. The company specialises in the extraction, procession and production of coal related products. The main operations are coal mining (underground mining, opencast mining, pit layout, drilling and blasting, dragline stripping, and throw blasting) and coal processing (coke manufacture, gas plant and railway steamers).
Products and Services
The major products produced by the firm are coal, coke and other related products.
To capitalize on the coking properties of Hwange coal, the Colliery has been making coke since 1913. The technology used for coke making has generally followed worldwide trends, starting with bee hive ovens, followed by the Copper recuperative ovens, leading up to the modern OSC twin flue underjet type ovens, originally constructed in 1971 and subsequently rebuilt in 1987. The coke battery capacity is 18 100 tonnes per month. The modern coke ovens have an associated by-products plant which cleans the coke oven gas of tar, ammonia, benzol and naphthalene. Cleaned coke oven gas provides the fuel for the coke battery as well as for steam raising requirements for the plant.
One of the most important aspects of the firm is the processing of the raw coal. Coal from Opencast and Underground mines is received at one of the Processing Plants onto the raw coal stockpile. Alternatively coal from the Opencast can also be received directly into the plant. Coal fed into the plant passes through a primary crusher which reduces the raw coal product to -150mm before screening.
The Hwange coke oven gas usage profile was, up to 1995 as follows:-
- Coke Battery Under firing 50%
- Boilers – Steam Raising 25%
- Flared Excess Gas 35%
With the commissioning of the ZESA Hwange Power Station in 1983, the possibility of routing the excess flared gas toZimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Holdings as a marketable product was recognized and pursued. OSC Processing Engineering were contracted to design, build and commission a gas plant to pipe excess coke oven gas from the coke ovens directly to the Power Station. This turnkey project was commissioned in November 1995, saving Zimbabwe millions of dollars in foreign currency since this gas is a viable substitute for diesel fuel which the Power Station had been using for boiler start ups and flame stabilization. Current annual gas requirements are plus or minus 30 000 kNm3 and are projected to increase as other boilers are converted to utilize coke oven gas.
Although much of the internal coal transport has been taken over by the conveyor system, Hwange Colliery still runs a fleet of seven steam engines with rolling stock on 54 km of private track. Of the seven, six are North British 19th class and 15th class locomotives (three of each), and the seventh is a German Henshel. Apart from shunting duties at the Processing Plant, the locomotives also move National Railways rolling stock from the Company’s private siding at Thompson junction to various parts of the Colliery. External markets receive their coal by rail or road transport depending on the size of the order.
Company Social Responsibility
The coal company has a number of social responsibility initiatives. Key among them is a football club that has been in the Premier Soccer League for a number of years. Hwange Football Club was established and has been sponsored by the company since its birth as part of the company's initiative to plough back to the community.
Besides this, the company has developed a self contained community within the Hwange town. Services normally run by an urban council are provided by the Company through its Estates Department. Outside of the Company’s domain, but very much a part of the Hwange community, are the Government departments and parastatals. The District Administrator and the Magistrate are resident in Hwange, together with the Police, Army and Posts and Telecommunications Corporation. The Hwange Power Station is run by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority and employs a large staff complement.
Hwange is renowned for its recreational facilities. The town caters for football, rugby, tennis, swimming, golf, bowls, hockey, squash, darts, badminton, cricket and horse riding. For the less energetic there is a Dramatic Society and a well-stocked library. Lions, Round Table and M.O.T.H.S. all have their own dens or halls.
From 2012 up to 2013, the firm has been recording significant losses and drop in production. Hwange Colliery Company Limited recorded a $30,9 million loss for the year ended December 31, 2013 compared to a profit of $3,1 million in 2012 due to low production volumes and the reduction in the coke price locally and abroad. During the full-year period overall sales volumes decreased by 16% to 1 602 187 metric tonnes due to low production throughput. Export sales of coke and breeze decreased by 57% because of the shutdown of some of the operations of coke customers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the invasion of cheaper coke imports from China.
The company in 2014 entered into an agreement on toll coking agreement with South Mining Company. The deal involved the commission of new equipment valued at USD $18.4 million acquired from Europe. The company also acquired a loan through a line of credit from the Export Bank of India. The money was meant to be channeled into the company's long term developmental projects. To this end, Hwange was pre-occupied with acquiring additional concessions especially in the western side of the mine which had not been explored.
- author, Hwange Colliery Company Limited, "Zimbabwe Stock Exchange", retrieved:09 Oct 2014"
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- V. Mtomba, Hwange Colliery records a $30,9 million loss, "Newsday", published:01 April 2014,retrieved:09 Oct 2014"
- , Hwange Colliery 's Loss Widens, "The Herald", published:01 Oct 2014,retrieved:09 Oct 2014"