Mines urged to build power stations as demand doubles

ELECTRICITY consumption is expected to nearly double in the coming year to 3 500MW peak demand with new and expanding mines and ever more houses on the grid, acting Zesa Holdings chief executive officer, Mr Eliab Chikwenhere, said yesterday.

Peak electricity demand currently stands at 1 950MW and Mr Chikwenhere told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy and Power Development that the figure is expected to rise to 3 500MW.

“With the increase in demand from the current 1 950MW and taking into account the new applications we have received, especially in the mining sector, in the coming year, we expect the figure will encroach 3 500 MW,” he said.

Zesa was engaging mining companies to urge them to invest in electricity generation for their own use.

“We are discussing with mining companies, especially in the ferrochrome sector that they have to generate their own power,” Mr Chikwenhere said.

Zesa Holdings and Dinson Holdings, which is developing the iron and steel plant at Manhize near Mvuma, have already signed a tariff agreement that will see Zesa supplying subsidised electricity in return for the construction of three renewable energy plants by the iron and steel company. 

The three plants are expected to generate 270MW, which will primarily be used at the US$1,5 billion iron and steel plant to meet its own demand. 

Dinson is building a 100MW solar plant at its ferrochrome smelting plant in Selous, another 100MW station at Manhize powered by wind energy and 70MW to be produced from waste heat generated at the iron and steel plant. 

Gold producing company, Caledonia Mining, has built a 12MW solar power plant at its Blanket Mine in Gwanda, while Golden Valley Mine is in the process of constructing a 7MW solar power plant at its gold mine in Kadoma.

Mr Chikwenhere told the Committee that the current power shortages being experienced in the country were due to depressed generation at Kariba South following even lower water rations from the Zambezi River Authority as Southern Africa faces drought.

“The challenges that we are facing are quite serious. The main reason for the power shortage is low water levels at Kariba. You may be aware that the Zambezi River Authority has reduced our allocation of water to the extent that we are now required to produce only 240MW against an installed capacity of 1050MW. That’s a phenomenal drop that has resulted in load shedding.

“The problem has been compounded by the state of our equipment at Hwange Power Station specifically looking at Units One to Six; these are old units that we have been trying to maintain because it’s important that we do so,” he said.

Mr Chikwenhere said for the past 10 years, the power utility had been having problems of funding for the maintenance of its generation and distribution infrastructure.


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