The board of Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum producer, Zimplats, this week gave approval for a capital spend of US$201 million into a 185MW solar plant. The solar plant will augment Zimplats’ power supply, and enhance its ESG performance metrics. The spend on the solar plant is part of an overall 10 year capital investment strategy starting in 2021 with US$1,8 billion budgeted for investment.
“Zimplats is pleased to announce that the board of directors has approved an overall capital investment strategy with a budget of US$1.8 billion to be implemented over a 10-year period beginning in 2021, with US$1.2 billion already approved for implementation,” says Zimplats in a statement released this week.
Zimplats, a subsidiary of South Africa’s Impala Platinum (Implats) earlier this year applied a license from the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) to build a 105MW plant at Ngezi, southwest of Harare, where it has mines and two concentrators, and an 80MW solar plant at nearby Selous where there is a smelter and concentrator.
Zimplats to reduce power imports
The platinum producer imports a lot of its power needs from Mozambique’s Hydro Cahora Bassa to make up for the shortfall in supplies from Zimbabwe’s electricity utility, ZESA Holdings. The solar energy plant will be financed internally by Zimplats and will help the company reduce its power imports dramatically.
Zimbabwe sometimes experiences recurrent power cuts which at times last up to 18 hours a day, affecting the mining sector, the country’s biggest earner of foreign currency. Zimplats’ spend on a new solar plant is set to help minimise the power imports and save the country of the much needed foreign currency.
According to a notice by Zimbabwe’s energy regulator ZERA, a 132kv solar plant substation will be built at Ngezi. The company will run a 5km line from the plant to the Ngezi mine substation. At Selous, lines will run for 500m to the existing 132kV line.