Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority -ZESA- Executive Chairman Sydney Gata is traveling to Mozambique to finalize power import negotiations.

His travel is aimed at finding ways of activating mitigatory measures to stabilise the electricity shortage the country is currently facing.

Meanwhile, in Hwange reports are that engineers are diligently making sure unit 7 is on the grid before month end.

Apparently, the energy utility’s failure to pay coal producers on time has “heavily incapacitated” them as they can no longer have working capital, reports Business Weekly.

ZESA’s four thermal power stations, Hwange, Harare, Munyati, and Bulawayo are not operating at full capacity due to coal shortages.

According to Coal Producers Association (CPA) chairman Linos Masimura who is also the managing director of Zambezi Gas, the miners had become so incapacitated “to even fail to load the trucks.”

Three companies namely Zambezi Gas, Turbo Mine, which is mining in Hwange western areas, and Hwange Colliery Company Ltd are supplying coal to thermal plants.

Said Masimura: “We haven’t been paid for four or so months and the viability of producers is now severely eroded; they (ZESA) have basically taken all our working capital.”

Masimura said coal miners were capable of supplying ZESA’s coal requirements for all plants.

He said: “But it is now a matter of them paying and collecting. They are collecting revenue from their consumers but they are not paying us. Why?”

In an interview with Business Weekly, ZESA executive chairman Gata confirmed owing the coal miners.

He said: “At all times, there is always a balance to be paid but the problem with some of the coal producers is that they can’t even wait for two weeks to get paid.”

With Hwange Unit 7 expected to come online in the next few weeks, according to official timelines, concerns have been raised over the adequate availability of coal.

Masumura complained that contracts to supply coal for Unit 7 were awarded only to two companies, namely Turbo mine, linked to businessman Billy Rautenbach and Hwange Colliery Company Ltd.

He said: “Some of our members had expanded capacity in preparation for units seven and eight but sadly, only two producers were awarded the contracts.

“We formally raised the dangers of risk concentration, especially when dealing with a project of national significance.”

Meanwhile, Makomo Resources, which is now the country’s largest coal miner, is facing serious viability challenges and is under corporate rescue.

-Zwnews| Business Weekly