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LUSAKA, April 29 (Reuters) – Zambia’s largest coal producer, state run ZCCM Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH), said on Tuesday it had drawn up a shortlist of 10 companies as a potential equity partner in its Maamba Colleries Ltd.

 

Joseph Chikolwa, chief executive officer of ZCCM-IH, said London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc (VED.L: Quote, Profile, Research) was one of the companies seeking to invest in the coal mine. Vedanta is already the majority shareholder in Konkola Copper Mines, Zambia’s largest copper producer.

 

The selected firm will be required to construct a 300-350 megawatts coal-powered thermal electric station, Chikolwa said. The company also has to become an equity partner in Maamba Collieries, into which ZCCM-IH plans to inject $12 million.

 

The evaluation process for selecting a successful bidder will last six months. Bids were closed on March 28.

 

“There will be a need to engage the bidder as regards to the practical feasibility of establishing the power plant and commencing investment in the mine,” Chikolwa said.

 

“At this stage … we are focused on assessing the feasibility and capacity of the bidders to ensure that Maamba Collieries Limited becomes a viable and sustainable coal producing entity,” Chikolwa told Reuters.

 

Other bidders include India’s Nava Bharat Ventures (NABV.BO: Quote, Profile, Research), South Africa’s Londoloza Resources, Borneo Mining, London-based Aldwych International and the Zambezi Consortium Limited comprised of investors from Mauritius and Zambia.

 

Consortiums comprised of local and foreign investors who have also been short listed are Sinazeze Consortium, Maamba Resources Ltd., Kanzinze Consortium and Baran Trade and Investments.

 

Chikolwa said ZCCM-IH had initiated measures to operate Maamba Collieries’ mine on a marginal basis so that its viability is maintained.

 

Maamba produced about 600,000 tonnes of coal per year in the 1980s, but years of undercapitalisation and operational losses have led to a fall in production.

 

Its collieries have 78 million known coal reserves to last over 70 years while the coal mine has capacity to produce up to one million tonnes of coal per year, officials say. (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/) (Reporting By Shapi Shacinda; editing by James Jukwey)

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