The Ministry of Mines has embarked on the construction of a coal washing and processing plant in Dawro Zone of the newly-formed South West Regional State. Takele Uma, minister of Mines, and Negash Wagesho (PhD), the region's deputy administrator, attended a foundation stone laying ceremony at the site last week. The development comes two months after the Ministry granted coal mining concessions to eight private companies in a bid to cut down on forex expenditures on coal imports. The bills for importing coal to power mainly cement factories have risen, reaching 275 million dollars last year. It is four times larger than the amount spent to import 650,000tn of coal in 2017 and double the volume shipped into the country five years ago.