Dangote Cement gets plot for coal mining

Summary

The move comes a week after President Magufuli directed the ministry to do so in order for the company to get a reliable supply of coal to fuel its cement production.

Dar es Salaam. The Ministry of Energy and Minerals yesterday handed a 10-square-kilometre plot to Dangote Cement Company in Ngaka, Ruvuma, for coal mining.

The move comes a week after President Magufuli directed the ministry to do so in order for the company to get a reliable supply of coal to fuel its cement production.

But as Dangote is awarded the plot, The Citizen is also reliably informed that the ministry will meet other cement and gypsum manufacturers to listen to their concerns over the matter.

Last Sunday, President Magufuli said he was aware that Tancoal, which is currently the only coal producing company in the country, has no capacity to feed the market demand.

Dr Magufuli’s remarks on the performance of Tancoal was happily welcomed by all local cement manufacturers who had been for long crying over the matter, especially after being slapped by a government ban to import coal from South Africa.

However, the companies argued that awarding Dangote alone with mining licence will not be a solution to the larger coal production problem. “After all, Dangote had targeted natural gas and that is why he constructed the plant in Mtwara. Once he’s connected with gas he will no longer be interested in heavy coal mining,” argued a senior manager of one of the biggest local cement companies, who asked not to be named.

Last week, Maweni Limestone Limited (MLL), a producer of Rhino Cement brand, said it was facing prospects of closing shop after failing to obtain enough coal locally.

To address such concerns, the ministry called for a meeting of the Cement and Gypsum Committee, which was supposed to be held yesterday in Dodoma, but was postponed at the eleventh hour because its chairman, the deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Prof James Mdoe, was out of town.

“We are told that the chairman is still in Ngaka working on the piece of land to be allocated to Dangote, and the meeting will now take place next week,” said our source adding “as long as the President vindicated our concerns about the production capacity of Tancoal we believe this time our proposals will be held. Until we have strong miner in place, the government should lift the ban.”