HWANGE, March 20 (The Source) – Portuguese conglomerate Mota-Engil has resumed mining at Hwange Colliery (HCC), four months after quitting over the coal miner’s failure to pay a $50 million debt, an official has said, but it remains unclear if it has been paid.
Mota-Engil signed a five- year contract worth $260 million with HCC in January 2014 and was producing 200,000 tonnes of coal per month but quit last year after Hwange’s obligations rose to $50 million.
HCC managing director Thomas Makore told The Source on Monday that Mota-Engil resumed production early this month at the Chaba concession site but would not say if Hwange had settled the debt because the issue was ‘sensitive’ and it was in a closed period.
“Yes they resumed operations but we can’t talk about it now because as a listed company, this can affect everything,” he said.
Hwange owes $350 million in debt while some of its equipment has been auctioned off by impatient creditors.
Last month while touring Hwange, Minister of Mines and Mining Development Walter Chidakwa conceded Mota-Engil was vital to the Colliery recovery. Mota-Engil, he said, had 200 workers but produced 200,000 tonnes of coal compared to Hwange Colliery whose staff complement is 2,400 but producing only 58,000 tonnes per month.