By Donata Mpochela
Mchenga Coal Mine says it working on increasing its production capacity from 12, 000 to 19,000 metric tons per year in order to meet the growing demand for its coal on the Malawi market.
The Mine’s Acting Manager Kelvin Alexander Chitsulo said this when Minister of Mining Albert Mbawala visited the Mine.
Chitsulo told the Minister that an increase in production will result in an upsurge in revenue and profits which will ensure that the company is able to pay royalties and other taxes in time.
“We have been struggling to pay royalties to government due to losses resulting from low production,” he said.
Chitsulo said the Company is set to achieve increased production through the opening of new mining sites including Phoka planned to come on stream in 2023, and three Office Block mining sites to open by the end of 2024.
The Company is also planning to commission a 100MW coal-fired Rukuru Power Plant, which will utilise coal sourced from Mchenga and other mines in the Northern Region.
Chitsulu explained that the project will cost US$287-million which will be secured from Chinese banks for plant construction, exploration, and mine mechanisation to increase production to 15, 000 tonnes per month.
“It shall be operated and maintained by Murray and Roberts, a South African Engineering company. The assessment has already been done. The Environmental Impact Assessment for the project is already done,” Chitsulo said.
In his speech, Mbawala advised the Company to make sure that it pays royalties in time and expedite plans to increase coal production to ensure import substitution.
“As a government, we are concerned with low coal production as Malawi is losing the much needed foreign exchange as companies are importing coal from other countries such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique while we have coal reserves,” Mbawala said.
He also advised Mchenga Coal Mine management to explore the export market in order to help in generating foreign exchange for the country.
Mbawala, nonetheless, commended the company for the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects it continues to implement in the area hosting the mine.
He said: “I am happy with the CSR projects being done here as the Miner provides free health services to members of the local community at its Mchenga Mine Clinic, free transportation of patients for emergency medical referrals to Rumphi District Hospital, and free electricity and portable water to primary school.”
“The Miner is also assisting the surrounding community in the construction of various infrastructure including school blocks and houses for teachers and traditional leaders.”
In addition, the Miner pays salaries to two auxiliary teachers at Mchenga Coal Mine Primary school.
Mine labour force currently comprises 200 employees (with a male: female ratio of 8:1), and the Company provides workers and their families amenities which include a clinic, a primary school, kindergarten, a subsidized shop, sporting facilities, electricity, a club with Digital Satellite Television, a maize mill and portable water.
The Company also provides industrial attachments to various students from technical colleges and universities in Malawi.
Mchenga produces sub-bituminous coal of high calorific value of 5800-7400kcal/kg and low ash content of around 14-24% and its major customers include Limbe Leaf, Cement Products, Kanengo Tobacco Processors, CP Feeds Group, East Metals and Miscor.
The Mine is located in the Livingstonia Coalfield of the Northern Region of Malawi about 120KM from Mzuzu on the M1 road to Karonga.