Chamber of Mines seeks solar power solutions

Staff Writer

The Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe says it is actively exploring alternative power solutions to address the ongoing energy crisis affecting the country’s mining industry.

This comes as the power supply situation has negatively impacted the mining industry with most mining companies reporting unscheduled power outages resulting in production stoppages and huge losses.

In its 2023 annual report, the Chamber of Mines said it continued to explore alternative power solutions to mitigate the impact of power outages.

“…The Chamber engaged Solarcentury Africa, a UK-based company, that plans to offer 60 megawatts (MW) of electricity from March 2024 and seeks potential customers while also looking for partners to develop solar plants,” the Chamber of Mines report said.

It said it also explored possible partnerships with independent power producers (IPPs) for the development of solar and wind projects.

The mining representative body said it facilitated the direct importation of power through Intensive
Energy Users Group, with some mining companies having already accessed power through the platform.

The Chamber of Mines noted that it was allocated a board seat in the Intensive Energy Users Group governance structure, enabling it to participate in the power sector decision-making process.

“Mining companies were also investing in alternative solar systems to supplement diesel generators at their mining locations,” the report read.

It added that to mitigate the impact of power outages on the mining industry, the Chamber engaged ZESA and the Ministry of Energy for the mining industry to be ring-fenced from load shedding.

The Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe reported that the mining industry demanded more than 500 megawatts of electricity and was among the top energy users and earners in the sector.

In 2023, the mining industry demanded on average 450 megawatts of power.

The mining industry experienced severe power shortages in 2023, with power outages experienced in most parts of the country during the first quarter of the year.

Total power supply including imports was approximately 1,326MW against national demand of 1,700MW last year.

Frequent breakdowns and scheduled maintenance of equipment at Hwange Power Station and low
water levels at Kariba Hydro-Power Station exacerbated the power situation.

In the outlook for 2024, the power supply situation is set to remain fragile due to low water levels at Kariba Hydro-Power Station caused by El Nino weather patterns and power outages related to transmission infrastructure challenges at Hwange Power Station.

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