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ZERA Grants License to Zimplats for Setting up Solar Power Plants

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Zimplats, the Zimbabwean unit of Impala Platinum, has been granted the license for the deployment of its solar energy projects by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA). The mining firm is going to generate its own power by developing two solar power plants of 105 MW in Ngezi mine and 80 MW in Selous mine, both located in Mashonaland West province. 

Last year in July, Zimplats had submitted the applications for the approval of the total 185 MW solar energy project to ZERA. The CEO of Zimplats, Alex Mhembere said in December that the company is investing $201 million in the solar PV plants “to augment power supplies and enhance ESG performance metrics”. According to Mhembere, the solar power plants are expected to be commissioned in the 2023 financial year.

Zimbabwe has a total installed capacity of 2382 MW, but in recent times, the power stations are generating a combined 1055 MW against a maximum demand forecast of 1650 MW. This has led to repetitive load shedding that is crippling the production industry and plunging households into darkness.

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Zimplats seek ways of cushioning their mining operations from the country’s intermittent power supply. Also, the cost of diesel in Zimbabwe is retailing at $1.38 per liter currently, which is among the highest in the region. Thus, running mines on diesel generators is not sustainable and many miners are turning to renewable energy.

Zimplats is not the only miner that has turned to solar energy for its mining operations. The Blanket Mine in Zimbabwe, operated by New York Stock Exchange gold miner Caledonia Mining, will soon be equipped with a 12 MW solar plant. The solar PV plant is expected to be operational this year and will provide approximately 27% of the mine’s daily electricity.

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