Freedom Mupanedemo Midlands Bureau
Fertiliser manufacturer Sable Chemicals has started feasibility studies to mine coal bed methane gas in Lupane as it seeks to cut on its import bill, an official has said.
The company, which is the sole manufacturer of Ammonium Nitrate (AN) fertiliser, stopped production in June this year due to foreign currency shortages.
Sable chief executive Mr Bothwell Nyajeka said the firm will rely on importing gas, which is the major raw material, adding that the huge import bill was choking the company.
He said the company was also looking at prospects of exploring natural gas in Muzarabani and Mozambique.“In the long-term, Sable Chemicals is expecting that exploration and investment in coal bed methane in Lupane or natural gas from Muzarabani and/or Mozambique will allow Sable Chemicals to produce local ammonia gas and reduce the importation of the gas,” he said.
Mr Nyajeka said feasibility studies for the projects were at advanced stage, and the company was looking at exploiting the local resources to cut on its import bill. He said the company, which was operating below capacity, was also working on short-term expansion plans for it to meet expected production capacity.
“The plans involve plant retooling and doubling the number of rail tank cars used to transport ammonia gas from South Africa,” he said.
Mr Nyajeka told this publication last week that the company, which only managed to produce only 7 000 tonnes of fertiliser since January, was expected to up production following Government’s intervention. “We are resuming normal production this October after we received another batch of US$1,5 million. We earlier on received another US$2,5 million and we are hopeful that it will take us far.”