RIOZIM Limited has applied to the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) for licences to build four solar power plants with a combined output of 178 megawatts (MW) to avoid costly and frequent disruptions to operations from power cuts.
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) listed diversified mining company said it wants to build, own and operate solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants for its mining operations namely Cam and Motor (gold), Renco (gold), Murowa (diamond) and Dalny (gold).
Early last year, RioZim signed a US$200 million agreement with Chinese firm, China Gezhouba Group International Engineering Corporation (CGGC) for the construction of three solar power plants at Cam and Motor, Renco and Dalny mines.
Term sheets have also reportedly been signed already with the Industrial and Commercial Bank (ICB) of China to provide 85 percent of the funding while Standard Bank will also make 15 percent contribution to the requisite project finance.
This comes as Zimbabwe is battling a debilitating power crisis, resulting in power cuts that last hours on end disrupting smooth flow of production and forces firms like RioZim to use expensive alternatives.
Gold and diamond are some of the key and strategic minerals expected to anchor the country’s vision of growing the mining sector into a US$12 billion industry by 2023.
Zimbabwe needs about 1 800 megawatts at peak periods of demand for electricity, but is currently only able to generate up to about 600MW, at best, and the balance is covered either by imports or hours of load shedding.
Once RioZim has built the power stations, it will have adequate electricity for its mines and also earn revenue from feeding excess power to the national grid where there is a huge demand supply mismatch.
In an application to ZERA RioZim said it requires a licence to construct a 54MW solar power station at its Cam and Motor gold mine near Kadoma.
“Cam & Motor Solar (Private) Limited intends to utilise part of the power generated for own consumption by the mine while the balance will be sold to Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC),” RioZim said.
The project will also include the construction of approximately 1,5 kilometres of a single panther 132 kilo-Volt transmission line from the proposed Cam and Motor Solar Plant to existing Eiffel Flats T–Eiffel Flats–Maranatha 88kV 132/33kV Substation.
At Murowa Diamond Mine, Zvishavane District, in the Midlands Province, RioZim wants to construct, own, operate and maintain a 68,4 MW solar power plant. It will also construct approximately 45 kilometres of a single Lynx 88(132) kV transmission line from the proposed solar plant to Zvishavane’s 132/33kV Substation.
For Dalny Mine, in Mashonaland West Province, RioZim said it was looking to build a 54 MW solar PV power plant.
“The project will also include the construction of approximately 60 kilometres of a single Lynx 132 kV transmission line from the proposed Dalny Solar Plant to Selous 330/132kV Substation,” RioZim said.
The mining company will build the smallest of all its solar power plants, 38,04 MW, at Renco Mine, in the Nyajena communal lands, Masvingo Province.
As with all other projects, Riozim will also construct a new electricity transmission line, 55 kilometres of a single Wolf 132 kV, from the proposed Renco plant to Triangle’s 132/33kV substation.
Measures by independent producers to generate their own power comes as Zimbabwe is battling generation constraints that include effects of drought on Kariba Hydro Power Station and antiquated equipment at Hwange Power Station, the country’s second biggest plant after Kariba_Business Weekly