Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Government yesterday signed an agreement with a Dubai-based company, Victoria Consultant, that will assist the country secure markets for coal exports in India and Japan.
The deal, which will also see the company capacitate local mines to meet production requirements, was signed by Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando and Victoria Consultant chief executive officer Mr Vito Oliveira Sousa.
President Mnangagwa oversaw the signing ceremony.
The firm will assist Zimbabwe secure markets in India and Japan, two of the largest coal importing countries.
Japan and India bought 16,7 percent and 16,2 percent of the world’s total coal imports last year.
In his remarks, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe should take advantage of cordial relations with India to boost exports.
“Here’s an opportunity where you can grow the mining industry and the market is there. Fortunately, the relations with India are excellent. We have an excellent rapport with His Excellency Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, and currently you can see that India now has the India-Africa Forum where India is putting billions of dollars to assist Africa in development.
“So we should take advantage of this India-Africa Forum to finance, capitalise our industry and the mining sector in particular and there are other areas which India is willing to support us but we have been lacking in responding to that goodwill because of other constraints like sanctions which have been burdening us for the past two decades. But India would like to support us in energy, in pharmaceuticals in railway construction and so on, and here is now he is one huge step in the area of coal mining. So I think the huge burden is on us to produce because the market is there,” President Mnangagwa said.
Minister Chitando said the company would also mobilise working capital for local companies.
“This agreement has three main things, namely linking the market and having linked the market as I said, we then have two constraints,” he said.
“We don’t have the capacity so they then provide the funding to produce. We have 10 projects that are already active in Hwange but they are not able to produce much because of two constraints, markets and capital. So they are coming with a solution of the markets, the capital and the logistics.”
He said they had targeted coal from Hwange for the short term.
“If you look at those projects (in Hwange) they are new. There’s a railway line and the handling facilities are already there. In the long term we will look at all resources in the country but in the short term we are doing Hwange,” Minister Chitando said.
Mr Sousa said he hoped his company would have a successful partnership with Zimbabwe.
“We hope that this day marks the beginning of a long and successful partnership. This is about Indian market and Japan so those are the markets that we intend to export the coal
“Our objective is to get the markets and export the coal that is what the Zimbabwe Government is expecting from us,” he said.
He added that the amount of coal they would export was dependent on the country’s production capacity.
Zimbabwe has an estimated 25 billion tonnes of coal reserves but currently mines between two and three million tonnes annually.