THE government has officially handed over the Kiwira Coal Mine to the State Mining Corporation (STAMICO), which has pledged to begin production at the country's largest coal mine within the next three months.
STAMICO Director General, Mr Gray Mwakalukwa, confirmed to the 'Daily News' that they were given the documents to manage the mine last week.
According to reports, the government decided to give back the mine after TanPower Resources, which owned 70 per cent shares, decided to surrender them to the Treasury Registrar, thus owning 100 per cent share back.
"The process to handle over the mine has started whereas the government gave us the documents, which we have started working on," Mr Mwakalukwa said.
He reported that the corporation is working on existing contracts, which TanPower Resources had entered with various partners and study them to avoid legal wrangles.
Mr Mwakalukwa further reported that STAMICO has invited various partners to work with it, adding that more than 23 companies have shown interest so far.
"We are pursuing a more transparent approach to get companies to partner with in the whole process, be they local or foreign. The basic requirements here include technical capability and financial muscle to ensure that the desired goals are met," he pointed out.
The STAMICO boss mentioned the documents they were given during the handover ceremony as including feasibility studies on the expansion of an underground mine, an open cast mine, study on the power plant and expansion of a transmission line to distribute power to the national grid.
"With the expansion of the transmission line, STAMICO had entered into a power purchase agreement with Tanesco in addition to studying the coal resources available; so we have to handle them very carefully to ensure we operate smoothly," he elaborated.
Mr Mwakalukwa said they have started working on the existing contracts and that by the next three months starting January next year, they expect to get a partner with whom they will work together.
For the time being, he said, the mine has only 39 staff members on the Care and Maintenance Department after all other workers were retrenched when the government decided to shut down operations last year.
Kiwira has an average annual output of 35,000 metric tonnes of coal.