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Hwange Colliery starts severance program to slash workforce by up to 50%

Hwange Colliery Co. Ltd. started a voluntary severance program in March, looking to cut up to half of its workers in Zimbabwe in order to produce competitively as it looks to restart underground operations by the end of September, Bloomberg News wrote June 6.

Hwange Colliery employs about 2,400 people and is the owner and operator of the Hwange coal mine in Zimbabwe.

Out of the 1,000 to 1,200 workers targeted for layoffs, 200 personnel have taken the voluntary severance option, according to the company's managing director, Thomas Makore.

Makore also said the miner is in talks for potential off-take deals from underground operations, which are expected to boost production of more valuable coking coal.

Production from open pit operations has picked up after heavy rains slowed mining rates in the first quarter, Makore added.

Hwange's output increased to 170,000 tonnes in May as compared to 52,000 tonnes in April and is expected to exceed 200,000 tonnes in this month.

The company was also reported to be planning massive layoffs last year. Zimbabwe's Deputy Mines Minister Fred Moyo had announced in June 2016 that Hwange intended to lay off 1,500 workers during the year to cut costs and stay in business.

The Zimbabwe government holds a 43% interest in the company, comprising a 37% direct interest and 6% via the state-owned pension fund.