Ferrochrome producers respond to Govt demands to produce own power, agree to build 300MW

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Zimbabwe’s ferrochrome miners, the nation’s biggest electricity consumers, have agreed to build their own power plants over the next two years as the government seeks to balance energy demand.

Under the agreement, ferrochrome producers will in the meantime pay electricity tariffs that are little more than half the rate charged to other mining companies, according to power utility Zesa.

The deal will ensure the long-term sustainability of the energy-intensive sector, according to John Musekiwa, chief executive officer of Sinosteel’s Zimbabwe unit Zimasco, one of the country’s biggest ferrochrome producers. The industry is targeting power output of 300 megawatts by 2026.

“Our government’s strategy to move toward green energy solutions in the near term is well understood and the timelines agreed to with regards the construction of the power plants reflects that,” Musekiwa wrote in response to questions from Bloomberg.

Zimbabwe’s ferrochrome producers consume up to 300MW of power based on current installed capacity, according to industry officials. Apart

Energy Minister Edgar Moyo says power demand from the mining sector alone has now risen to 2,600MW as the industry expands and new projects come on stream. The country currently generates about 1,400MW to 1,500MW. He says government wants ferrochrome companies to produce their own power and be weaned off the grid, freeing up power for other users.

“We have approved that these miners, particularly the ferrochrome miners who were being subsidised, should develop their own power generation plants, so that they can count power as their inputs, and not rely on the utility (ZESA) to provide power,” Moyo told The Chronicle.