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Mining companies turn to solar as power woes continue

By Business Reporter – Monday 3 February 2020

HARARE (Mining Index) – AS Zimbabwe continue to face electricity challenges, more mining companies are turning to solar to cushion incessant power outages that have adversely affected output.

Zimbabwe has been facing electricity challenges resulting in the country facing power outages for up to 18 hours a day.

In October 2019, Caledonia Mining Corporation announced that its Zimbabwean subsidiary, Blanket Mine plans to install a solar power plant to reduce electricity dependence on the national grid saying advanced engineering work was underway with the application for relevant regulatory approvals in progress after which a tender process from interested parties to build and operate the project will be embarked on.

Gold and diamond producer, RioZim followed suit and made applications to Zimbabwe Energy and Regulatory Authority (ZERA) to set up solar power stations with a combined capacity of 214 megawatts.

State-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) is planning to invest in solar after its output plunged to 1,6 million carats last year from 2,8 million the previous year owing largely to power cuts.

ZCDC chief executive officer Mr Roberto De Pretto was quoted in state media saying, “We have adjusted our target accordingly taking into account the unreliable supply of energy from ZESA but we have put in our capital expenditure for two additional generators and we are going to be pushing for a solar farm to provide all the energy we need.”

BNC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Batirai Manhando said his organisation was engaging investors to partner in setting up solar solutions.

“Yes we are exploring that route and working with potential partners to develop the solar solution,” said Manhando.

Last year, Manhando admitted BNC had not been spared by power cuts. He added that BNC requires 10MW of electricity per day, and his organisation had received half of its power requirements from ZESA, leaving the nickel producer with no option but to supplement electricity through imports from Cabora Bassa in Mozambique. ENDS//

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