This month marks five years since the commissioning of Zambia’s largest coalfired Thermal Power Plant at Maamba Collieries Limited (MCL) in Sinazongwe District, Southern Province and commencing supply of electricity to the national grid.
The state-of-the-art 300 MW plant was commissioned by the Republican President H.E. Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu on August 7, 2016, making MCL Zambia’s largest Independent Power Producer – accounting for about 10 per cent of the country’s installed capacity at the time.
The privatisation of Maamba Collieries saw Nava Bharat Singapore along with its cosponsor ZCCM-IH and project lenders infused an investment of US$ 919 million leading to the revival of the country’s largest coal mine and construction of the high-tech power plant – that comprises two environmentally friendly 150MW generators, a 48km 330kV double-circuit transmission line and raw water pump house with a 21 km-long pipeline from Lake Kariba.
Its twin generators are designed to use thermal-grade coal as fuel, which, before the firm’s privatisation in 2010 was, due to unsalability, stockpiled in waste heaps and left to self–combust, polluting Maamba town and the surrounding environment.
Consumption of thermal-grade coal by the thermal power plant has played a huge role in controlling the pollution of both the air and the waters, restoring the valley town’s picturesque natural landscape, and recovering land for its reforestation programme under the Green Maamba campaign.
Not only is the power plant instrumental in restoring Maamba’s environment, but importantly it also serves as a leading driver in the country’s energy diversification drive, to reduce reliance on hydro-based power plants, as envisaged in the 7th National Development Plan and contribute significantly to the nation’s energy security, since 2016, when the plant came online.
Zambia’s Vision 2030 feeds into the provisions outlined in ‘Agenda 2063’, Africa’s vision of accelerated economic and industrial development, which was established by the Heads of State and governments of the African Union in 2015.
The International Energy Agency notes that for these visions to be attained, urbanisation and accelerated economic growth must be accompanied by a stable electricity supply to fuel the growing industries.
MCL’s coal-based power is the second-largest source of electricity in Zambia’s energy mix after hydropower and remains unaffected by the vagaries of nature and thus is a key player in the supply of stable electricity to the national grid.
Aside from contributing about 10 per cent of Zambia’s installed electricity generation capacity, high-grade coal from MCL’s coal mine, the largest in the country, plays a vital role in the economy.
Domestic sales of MCL’s high-grade coal to cement producers; makers of cooking oil and animal feed; steel, lime, and tobacco manufacturers as well as to some breweries meanwhile, helps keep the wheels of the nation’s industry turning.
Notably, with additional investment, Maamba Collieries, with its Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and World Bank approved eco-friendly technology, has the potential to double its 300MW output and help Zambia take a step closer towards sustainable energy security and significantly contribute to Zambia’s aim of being an electricity hub in the region.
Since its commissioning, Zambia’s one-of-a-kind coalfired power plant has been pivotal in reducing load shedding hours, as the country continues to grapple with rising energy demand amid persistently erratic rainfall triggered by climate change.
In its first five years, the plant has established itself as one of the key pillars in the country’s energy mix helping to cut load-shedding by about four hours at the height of Zambia’s power crisis.
On its fifth anniversary of power generation, Maamba Collieries renews its commitment to supply power to the grid and will remain a key player in the local power industry, while helping drive the country’s energy diversification drive.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Maamba Collieries Limited plays a huge part in the life of the community in Maamba town, Sinazongwe district and surrounding areas, not only as the largest employer in the area but also its support for the local populace.
Education, health, infrastructure development and sports form the four pillars of MCL’s CSR initiatives, which the company implements through the Maamba Development Trust (MDT).
For the company’s CSR activities, as well as for its efforts towards environment management; skill development for local youth; livelihood restoration for the less privileged; support of the community and traditional leaders as well as prompt assistance to local authorities in times of natural calamities, MCL last year received two awards at the 2020 Zambia CSR and Responsible Business Awards organised by CSR Network Zambia – for its Corporate Social Responsibility Policy Implementation and Environmental Stewardship.
The company was recognised for spearheading a multitude of community sustainability and development programmes in and around Sinazongwe district, including skills development for women and youth, construction and renovation of health facilities and township roads, as well as supplying clean drinking water to Maamba town.
In September 2020, MCL for ZMW 850,000 completed construction of a new health Clinic in the inaccessible area around the company’s water pumping facility at Lake Kariba, to help people access medical care in remote areas.
The company’s inhouse civil engineering team constructed the clinic and the new health facility built to Ministry of Health’s specifications, which became operational last year, now provides public healthcare to over 5,000 people of communities in the remote area – who previously had to endure long journeys of over 20 km in difficult conditions for medical attention.
Meanwhile, MCL and its long-standing partner Operation Eyesight Zambia have been engaged in bringing quality eye care to the district over the last few years and are engaged in upgrading the facilities for eye care in Maamba General Hospital by refurbishing the operation theatre and constructing an out-patient department and clinic at the hospital.
This will herald the availability of high-quality eye care in the Sinazongwe district and other neighbouring districts of the Southern Province for the first time. MCL’s flagship CSR programme was the building of the township roads, all part of the company’s motto of community development and improving the lives of locals, in keeping with its motto – ‘… Making a Difference’.