A German firm contracted by the Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) to deal with underground coal fires in the coal-mining town is now on site and is expected to present a report of its findings in March, a cabinet minister has said.
Speaking at a media briefing after his tour of one of the hotspots this week, the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Winston Chitando, said the government is taking the matter seriously hence his visit to assess the extent of the situation. He said:
The international consultants are here and their mandate is to fully investigate what could have happened. What could have caused the simmering that is taking place?
They have done similar work in Europe and the Middle East and of course in Africa. They are looking at what caused that hole to come up and what is underneath.
They will look into what has happened and issue a report to the management of the Colliery and with Cabinet involvement, we will take the necessary remedial action to make sure that whatever problem is there is resolved.
It’s a matter which the government takes seriously hence my visit and it’s a matter which is being followed up.
Hwange residents welcomed the high-level visit by the government minister saying it raises their hopes that something will finally be done to protect their lives. Greater Whange Residents Trust coordinator, Fidelis Chima, said:
Greater Whange Residents Trust is pleased by increased interest by the government to deal decisively with the issue of underground fires that are a danger to the community of Hwange.
The minister’s tour to the site of the underground fires inspires confidence in the community that at least something positive will come out.
We also had a tour at the sites of underground fires with Professor Mutondi (Chief director in the Ministry of Environment) and EMA during the festive season.
In late 2021, HCCL contracted DTM, a German-based company to deal with the underground fires that the coal miner has been battling over the past years.
Several people have been seriously injured after being burnt by underground coal fires over the years and there are fears that the fires, which hitherto have been confined to some old excavation sites, could spread to residential areas. – (News Report)