Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko may have been sold a dummy by Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) when he was made to commission the $32 million mining equipment some of which has reportedly turned out to be second-hand and obsolete machinery, it has been learnt.

Some of the much-publicised equipment has already broken down before any mining has taken place with the board and management reportedly trying to sweep the matter under the carpet.

One of the second largest shareholders, Nicholas van Hoogstraten, was recently quoted in the media expressing reservations over the importation of the equipment alleging there was “gross corruption” in the acquisition of the machinery reportedly because it was bought from Third World countries.

HCCL corporate identity and public relations manager Elta Sanangura told NewsDay: “The fact is that we are still in the commissioning phase of the new equipment. We have teething problems as we do load-testing of the equipment.

“Specifically, we have hydraulic system problems on the BEML equipment. The problem has been diagnosed to be a manufacturing problem, the manufacturer is expeditiously responding to this problem and providing new components and spare parts. These new parts will arrive this week. The fact that the same problem has been found on different machines means that it is a manufacturing problem.”

Sanangura added: “Such problems occur during the commissioning phase. Once the machines are deployed into production and their performance during operation has been monitored and approved, then commissioning can be completed. It is unfounded and premature to report that the machines are second-hand. They have new serial numbers and are under warranty.”

Responding to the earlier reports, BEML Ltd in a letter to HCCL managing director Thomas Makore yesterday added: “We confirm that the mining equipment supplied to M/s Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) is indeed brand new and is in complete compliance with the specifications agreed to between HCCL and BEML and supplied after due certification by our quality team, besides your own team.

The EXIM Bank of India also assessed BEML’s capacity and capability in supplying quality equipment before they finalised to support the finance package. As such, there is no room for supplying any equipment of inferior quality.

“It is pertinent to mention here that apart from holding a major market share for this equipment in India, BEML has exported similar products to more than 60 countries globally, which are gainfully deployed.”

But insiders at the colliery company said some of the seats, types and other ancillary parts of the equipment were clearly worn out before the machines could even commence open cast operations.

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