Mbinga — PRODUCTION in many of the country's industries in the country is likely to increase following the launch of operations at Ngaka Coal Mine in Mbinga District, Ruvuma Region.
The Board Chairman of TANCOAL, Mr Graema Robertson, said here over the weekend that the coal that will be available at affordable cost will go a long way to stimulating the country's economic growth and development. "This project has come at the right time when most industries want alternative energy to enhance production," he said, when commenting on the discovery of coal bed methane, a new energy gas at the Ngaka mine.
Mr Robertson who was on a tour of the mine site was accompanied by the Managing Director of National Development Corporation (NDC), Mr Gideon Nasari and Mbinga East (CCM)) Member of Parliament, Mr Gaudence Kayombo. According to Mr Robertson, coal bed methane is commonly used in the world today and is the competitor to natural gas.
"Apart from producing coal we (TANCOAL) are prepared to build a power generation station capable to produce 240 megawatts of electricity by 2015. And the electricity will be pumped into the national grid," he said. The board chairman said the power project would not only be significant to Mbinga residents but also to both urban and rural Songea residents who have gone for many years without reliable electricity to better their lives.
"We are working closely with NDC on the discovery of coal bed methane at the Ngaka mine to ensure that the energy to be produced benefits Tanzanians," he explained. Earlier, Mr Kayombo said the coal mine project was expected to meet energy requirements for not only in his constituency but the whole Ruvuma region.
"I am very happy to say that since the project started in 2006, progress has been made and now we all witness another discovery of natural gas," Mr Kayombo said, noting that people in the area will benefit a lot. He said the project has had a multiplier effect to the people by providing direct and indirect employment since the project began.
Mr Kayombo called on the government to find resources and invest in locals who will be working in the mines instead of relying heavily on foreigners. Speaking at the same occasion, Mr Nasari said NDC has managed to open the first coal mine project at Ngaka which is very rich in coal and if used properly would stimulate economic growth.
"Many industries now get coal locally instead of importing from South Africa where it is bought for 250 US dollars per tonne compared to half that price when bought here," he said. He said the coal from Ngaka will also be sold to neighbouring Malawi who use the coal for drying tea.
"We are now in discussions with TANESCO to ensure that the project also produces power," he said, adding that the project has all viable economic potentials for the regions of the Southern Highlands Zone.