Zim concedes failure on power crisis

HARARE - Zimbabwe has conceded failure on addressing the current power crisis and yesterday urged mining companies to import electricity on their own to mitigate the situation.

Energy minister Samuel Undenge told delegates at the on-going Mining Indaba that the acute power crisis currently being experienced in the country would only be addressed by the end of 2018.

“We urge all private sector players, especially mining houses to import own power. They should not only import, but also generate their own supply to relieve the national grid,” he said.

Zimbabwe is currently producing less than 1 000 megawatts (MW) against a demand of around 2 200 MW per day.

Undenge, who has come under fire for failing to come up with solutions in the energy sector, said the miners had to form an association and construct an independent power station.

“If you pool your resources you can generate up to 600 MW per day and after your own uses you can even have a surplus into the national grid,” he said.

Undenge’s remarks came after the announcement by Impala Platinum (Implats)’ Zimbabwean unit, Zimplats, that the British Isles-listed miner had concluded a power import deal with Mozambique Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB).

According to Zimplats chief executive Alex Mhembere, power for work on the platinum miner’s base metal refinery (BMR) will come directly from HCB.

The deal will see the platinum miner importing about 80 MW of electricity directly from HCB.

Zimplats already has a contract running that allows it to import about 75 MW of electricity through the Zesa grid from HCB, which expires in two years.

One of the main challenges being faced by the local mining industry is the issue of inadequate power and high tariffs, according to the Chamber of Zimbabwe Miners president Toindepi Muganyi.

This comes after the national power utility recently said Hwange Thermal Station was undergoing maintenance until this month, while power generation at Kariba Hydro Station was expected to be reduced by over 36 percent to 475 (MW) due to depleted water resources from the Kariba Dam.

Kariba and Hwange account for 95 percent of Zimbabwe’s 1 300MW daily power output and the shutdown at the latter means the country will produce about a third of its demand which peaks at 2 200MW — worsening electricity shortages in the southern African country, which is already in the throes of a deficit that has seen industry, mines and households go for hours without power.

The Zimbabwe Regulatory Authority has to date licensed hydro, coal and solar IPPs with most of them producing an average of 15MW.

State energy utility provider Zesa Holdings Private Limited says despite the fact that the energy sector in Zimbabwe was liberalised the power sector through the Electricity Act (chapter 13:19) in 2002, the sector has not received any significant investment from the private sector.

Figures show that Independent Power Producers (IPPs)’s contribution to national domestic energy production as at December 2014 stood at 0,3 percent.

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