So Mnangagwa Boasted That The Country Was Going To Export Electricity From Coal Mined At Hwange National Park?
9 September 2020
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Paul Nyathi

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s scandal smelling dream which he said was going to see the country exporting both coal and electricity by 2023 has gone up in flames after his cabinet on Tuesday took a bold step to immediately ban mining activities inside the National Parks.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa had personally granted exploratory rights for coal to two Chinese companies in one of the country’s iconic nature reserves, Hwange National Park.

The move to grant coal mining concessions comes as many countries move away from coal amid concerns over carbon emissions.

Across the globe, investors, developers and utilities have been moving in this direction, with a growing list of major banks including Standard Chartered, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley stepping away from coal investments.

Last month Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, visited the offices of both Afrochine Energy and Zimbabwe Zhongxin Coal Mining Group in Hwange, about 50 miles from the park.

During the visit, he said that Zimbabwe intended to become an energy exporter. “We must see also that this area changes and responds to growth and modernisation,” he declared.

About a third of Zimbabwe’s electricity is generated from coal-fired power plants. Hwange park is home to around 44,000 elephants, roughly of Zimbabwe’s total elephant population.

For the Zimbabwe government, the new coal mines dovetailed with an ambitious plan to be an energy exporter by 2023.

Government had said it had in its pipeline power projects of more than 5 000MW.

Afrochine Energy, which is the local unit of Chinese company Tsingshan, was expected to produce 100MW, while Zimbabwe Zhongxin Electrical Energy was expected to contribute 430MW.

Mines minister Winston Chitando said Zimbabwe could earn as much as US$3billion from these energy exports.

According to the Worldometer website, Zimbabwe holds 553 million tons (MMst) of proven coal reserves as of 2016, ranking it 38th in the world.

Zimbabwe has proven reserves equivalent to 163.3 times its annual consumption. This means it has about 163 years of coal left, at current consumption levels and excluding unproven reserves.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced the ban during the post-Cabinet media briefing.

“Mining on areas held by National Parks is banned with immediate effect. Steps are being undertaken to immediately cancel all mining titles held in National Parks,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.