HARARE – Zimbabwe’s coal mining firms, accused of supplying sub-standard product to a thermal power station operated by the State-run ZESA Holdings Limited, came out with guns blazing on Thursday, querying why the electricity producer publicly blasted them before discussing.

“The Coal Producers Association (CPA) would like to reiterate that the matters raised by ZESA have never been brought to our attention before and ZESA has not at any point raised concerns on the coal that current coal producers are supplying to ZPC (Zimbabwe Power Company),” they said.

ZPC is the power generating unit of ZESA Holdings, which run several power stations across the country.

The statement said individual contracts signed between ZPC and miners gave the power producer leeway to lodge complaints which are then taken to a joint operations committee that resolves disputes.

“All coal producers sign separate coal supply agreements (CSA) with ZPC for the supply of coal. The CSA sets out a procedure to ensure conformity to the required quality of thermal coal. The CSA allows ZPC to reject coal that does meet the agreed specifications. The CSA also makes provisions for the joint testing of coal in the event of a dispute,” the statement noted.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed Hwange Colliery Company Limited, Makomo Resources, Zambezi Gas and Western Coal are members of CPA.

Last week, ZESA chairman, Sydney Gata sensationally claimed that coal mines, excerpt Hwange, were ‘artisanal miners’ that were supplying sub-standard product after they said they would struggle to return to business after heavy flooding triggered by torrential rains forced them to halt operations.

They feared that they could struggle to de-water flooded mines because over $100 million in cashflows was locked up at ZPC.

But Gata reacted angrily to their claims.

He said ZESA had been paying its due and he would be meeting the ‘makorokozas’ (artisanal miners) soon to ‘embarrass’ them.

“I am meeting them (coal miners soon) to tell them that if they continue to supply rubbish coal, we will not pay. I will embarrass them. I was in Hwange yesterday (Thursday last week) and everyone is complaining about the quality of coal. Only Hwange can complain, not all those makorokozas,” he said.

Hwange, is the listed coal firms which is majority controlled by the Government of Zimbabwe.

There were fears on Sunday that the floods that rattle towns and villages in Hwange, some 700 kilometres north west of Zimbabwe, may spark a wave of fresh power cuts, dealing a blow to industries and domestic consumers already enduring serious blackouts.