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Zimbabwe Okays Export of 200,000 Tonnes of Excess Power Coal

Mining machines . (Federico Gambarini/dpa via AP)
Mining machines . (Federico Gambarini/dpa via AP)

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has allowed the export of 200,000 tonnes of excess power coal because of limited intake at its biggest coal-fired power plant, which is beset by frequent breakdowns, the coal producers association said on Friday.

The southern African nation's six coal miners have a standing arrangement to supply 300,000 tonnes of coal to Hwange Power Station every month but constant breakdowns of ageing equipment mean the plant is taking in less coal.

"The power coal stockpile has been growing hence we requested to be allowed to export some of it and this was granted," Linos Masimura, chairman of the Zimbabwe Coal Producers Association, told Reuters.

Masimura said the coal would be exported to other countries in southern Africa but producers could look beyond the region if port facilities were available.

Zimbabwe does not usually allow the export of power coal to ensure adequate domestic supply.

The Hwange plant has a design capacity of 920 megawatts but was producing 410 MW on Friday. The power station is being expanded by China's Sino Hydro to add another 600 MW capacity.

The country has instituted frequent power cuts, known locally as load shedding, due to electricity shortages.

With average demand of 1,735 MW, local power generation stood at 1,277 MW, according to the state power company. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by Jason Neely)