Caledonia raises US$13m in share sale for Blanket Mine solar plant

Caledonia adds solar to power expansion plan

Caledonia Mining says it has raised US$13 million from a share sale on the New York Stock Exchange to fund a 20MW solar plant at its Blanket Mine.

The company agreed with Cantor Fitzgerald & Co for the sales agent to sell 597,963 shares US$13 million worth of shares in Caledonia Mining on the New York Stock Exchange. Caledonia applied to London Stock Exchange’s AIM market for a block admission of up to 800,000 new depositary interests, which represent the same number of shares in the company.

“As previously mentioned, Caledonia expects to use the amount of net proceeds from the sales for investment in the construction of a solar power plant to supply electricity to Blanket Mine in Zimbabwe,” Caledonia said in a statement Friday.

Caledonia is one of a growing number of miners in Zimbabwe that are investing in solar to offset erratic power supply from ZESA.

[Click to read – Gold and green: Zimbabwean miners turn to renewables]

In 2019, Caledonia invited bids for an engineering, procurement and construction contract for the solar project. The company has received a generating licence and the necessary approvals from the Zimbabwe investment authorities and has shortlisted contractors for the solar project.

Power phases

Blanket plans to build the solar power facility in three 6.55-MW phases.

The first phase of is meant to meet Blanket’s consumption, with no excess power dispatched the grid; phase two comprises a further 6.55MW to meet peak demand, with excess power offloaded to the grid; while the third phase will see construction of the remaining 6.55MW to meet the maximum power allowed at the point of interaction with the ZESA grid.

Excess power generated by the solar plant is planned to be fed into the grid under an agreement with the local utility.

Blanket has already installed 18.4MW of diesel backup, but a move to solar will save costs, Caledonia said last year.

“Given the escalating cost of diesel and the problems related with obtaining a secured supply, a solar PV plant with integrated storage is proposed to mitigate the impact of Grid instability as well as to reduce the reliance on diesel power generation,” Caledonia said when it floated the tender.

Blanket Mine is close to completing a five-year US$44 million expansion project, comprising mainly the deepening of the central shaft to approximately 1,200 meters. Central shaft is expected to be commissioned in mid-2020, which will increase the mine’s annual output to 80,000 ounces from the current approximate 50,000oz.