Zimbabwe’s largest platinum producer, Zimplats, has applied for licenses to build two solar power plants with generation capacity of 185MW to power its mining operations. The announcement was made by Zimbabwe’s energy regulator ZERA last week.
A 105MW solar plant will supply power to Zimplats’s Ngezi operations in the southwest of Harare, where the company has mines and two concentrators. The other solar plant with 80MW power generation capacity will supply power to Selous operations where there is a smelter and concentrator.
A subsidiary of South Africa’s Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats), Zimplats’ plans to build solar power plants is part of the company’s growth strategy in Zimbabwe.
Implats CEO, Nico Muller, earlier this year announced the company’s plan to invest in solar energy to improve the company’s energy supply security. Zimplats mostly relies on power imports from Cahora Bassa’s hydro station in Mozambique. The setting up of the two solar plants will help increase energy security as well as improve Zimplats’ environmental credentials.
“In Zimbabwe, we are totally reliant on power generation from the Cabora Bassa scheme, so all our power there is renewable energy, so that’s probably the cleanest platinum being produced on the planet at the moment,” said Nico Muller, CEO of Implats.
This year Zimplats is spending about US$290 million in additional investment to grow its platinum output.
Several mining companies in Zimbabwe have also announced plans to build their own renewable energy generation capacity. Caledonia Mining raised US$13 million to fund a 12MW solar plant at its Blanket Mine. The plant is being built by French company Voltalia and is expected to be completed by early 2022.
Gold producer RioZim was granted a license to install a 75MW solar power plant which will supply power at four of its mines.