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Electricity application and installation guidelines for miners

By Business Reporter – Thursday 14 May 2020

LOCAL – HARARE (Mining Index) – “THE best form of energy to power a mine is basically electricity as other forms such as solar plants are extremely expensive to install, the panels eventually expire after some years and will require replacements,”

“A generator is costly on fuel and maintenance compared to getting electricity installed to run operations of the mine. Therefore a generator is mainly good on emergency back-ups,” said Eng. Charity Chikuni of Yadoh Engineering Group during a group presentation.

She said it is not difficult to get electricity installation on a mine. The easiest way is to engage a private contractor who has a track record of similar projects.

“It is this private contractor who will help you with all stages required by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) following standards and procedures. The contractor helps you to determine the size of transformer that matches your mining equipment,” said Chikuni.

She added that it is assumed that access to electricity connection is usually within reasonable distances for affordability.

She recommended electricity as the best source of power for mining as it is cost effective.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

QUESTION: What are the stages required by ZESA for electricity installation at a mine?

ANSWER: Application procedure for electricity installation is as follows:

  1. Fill in an application form at ZESA.
  2. ZESA does site visit at the mine.
  3. ZESA determines the connection fee for the client after ascertaining the scope of work to be done at the mine.
  4. Permission to engage a private contractor.
  5. Payment of connection fee, then work starts after agreeing with the contractor.
  6. The contractor is supervised by ZESA at every stage of work such as bush clearance, hole marking and digging, pole installation, stringing, and substation construction.

All materials must be approved by ZESA with accompanying receipts from suppliers.


QUESTION: How do I verify the legibility of an electricity contractor?

ANSWER: Every contractor must have a clean track record of previous work done with ZESA. Before engaging any contractor, there is need to verify previous work history.


QUESTION: What is the reasonable distance for electricity connection to be affordable?

ANSWER: The law says one must source electricity from the nearest point. Affordability depends on the distance of your nearest point, other things being equal. The shorter the nearest point, the cheaper it becomes. The further the distance means the mine owner must meet higher installation costs.


QUESTION: May you indicate the ranges or estimate of the ZESA connection fees.

ANSWER: It’s a relative fee calculated based on the size of the transformer, type of line and the length of the line. ZESA calculates the costs.


QUESTION: What does the ZESA site visit determine? What makes up the scope of work?

ANSWER: The contractor and ZESA visit the mine. ZESA determines the scope work so that they also determine the kind of supervision required and calculation of connection fees.


QUESTION: Is there any affiliate board for electricity contractors in the country?

ANSWER: Not at the moment, but its work in progress. We had such a meeting prior to lockdown, after lockdown there is high possibility.


QUESTION: In as much as ZESA supervises the contractor, as the miner, being the financier and owner of the project what do I need to pay attention at, please educate us with empowering hints.

ANSWER: ZESA makes sure everything is done to their standards because the work eventually becomes theirs after commissioning. Any faults and maintenance of the line will be their responsibility so ZESA makes sure that they do not inherit a problem. ZESA knows the contractors with a good workmanship.


QUESTION: Can you please provide an estimate, for example, minimum inspection fee for a small scale miner?

ANSWER: Currently we are doing 300 meters line construction and 25 KVA substation at Reinham plots and the client paid ZW$9000-00 connection fees.


QUESTION: What are the chances that the contractor and ZESA representative will not connive to charge more connection fees, prejudicing the miner or undercharge connection fees in return for a bribe (at the prejudice of the power utility). I’m asking this since it looks like there are no set indications concerning the connection fees.

ANSWER: It’s a long chain; different offices are involved so it is not easy to connive. For example, if the linesman comes for site visit, he gives information to his depot manager, then depot manager emails to commercial officer to calculate connection fee. The commercial officer forwards to network manager who has the overall approval of the work to be done.


QUESTION: How long does the process take?

ANSWER: The process usually takes a minimum of three weeks.


QUESTION: What are the dangers associated with electrical installation at a mine site?

ANSWER: All cables must be secured. No naked cables or wires should be visible at any given time.


QUESTION: What are the factors that determine the correct size of a transformer required at a mine?

ANSWER: Machinery output determines the size of the transformer.


QUESTION: Can I import a transformer? Do I need to get approval from ZESA?

ANSWER: Of course you can import, but it has to be predetermined by ZESA or your contactor.


QUESTION: Does it become ZESA property after power connections are complete?

ANSWER: Yes it becomes ZESA property but it cannot be shared with other clients. If it was supplied by ZESA others may share with you.


QUESTION: If others are to share the transformer with me, do they pay ZESA too?

ANSWER: The agreement is entirely yours. ZESA can only chip in for that new connection.


QUESTION: Is it then possible for neighbouring mines to group so that they share the installation of electrical power supply to their mines?

ANSWER: Very possible.


QUESTION: Is there any need to upgrade the size of a transformer in the life of a mine?

ANSWER: Yes, when the machines demands more than the current capacity.


QUESTION: What is the best substitute for electricity at a mine?

ANSWER: Mainly generators.


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