Zimplats importing 50MW from Zambia, advances construction of solar plant as it ramps up production

(File) Zimplats expanding operations under US$1.8bn investment

Zimplats is now importing 50MW of power from Zambia while pushing ahead with the construction of a solar plant, as it seeks more energy to power its US$1.8 billion expansion.

The company, Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum producer, commissioned a new concentrator in September last year, which increased milled output by 10% compared to the same time last year and 3% from the previous quarter. This has increased its need for power.

“Ore milled increased by 3% from the prior quarter to 1.94 million tonnes and benefited from the increase in operating days and improved availability of power during the period,” the company says in an update for the June quarter.

“A direct 50MW power import agreement was concluded with the Zambia Electricity Supply Company at the beginning of the period and resulted in improved power stability and availability in the quarter under review.”

Zambia’s power utility ZESCO is also supplying 100MW of power to ZESA.

Power supply was the top concern for mining companies last year, when miners lost as much as 17 hours of production time per day to loadshedding. The commissioning of two units at the Hwange power plant has helped ease the crisis, but demand continues to lag supply as miners expand and new projects are built.

“There are a number of new mining projects in the pipeline. We pray that the power situation remains stable as it is, and obviously, we would be happy if the power supply improves to meet our expansion drive in the sector,” says Chamber of Mines President Isaac Kwesu.

Zimplats has started construction of a 185MW solar plant to power up its operations, the first phase of the project will see the company installing 35MW at the Selous Metallurgical Complex for US$37 million. In total, Zimplats will invest US$201 million for the entire project, which it hopes to complete in 2027.

The solar project is part of Zimplats’ US$1.8 billion expansion plan, which includes the development and upgrade of two new mines.