Mining sector owes Zesa US$200 million: Chasi

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SIMBA RUSHWAYA IN VICTORIA FALLS

Energy Minister Fortune Chasi has  revealed that the mining sector owes the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Holdings a combined US$200 million in utility arrears.

Chasi made the revelation at the Zimbabwe Annual Mining Conference in Victoria Falls on Friday where the Chamber of Mines is hosting the indaba under the theme; “Realising vision 2030 through mineral resource based growth.”

Addressing delegates, Chasi painted a gloomy picture in the energy sector saying the low water levels at Kariba Dam and rampant infrastructure theft meant the government will struggle to meet the demands of the country.

“There is no guarantee that there will be water, what we are seeing is a southward movement in water levels. The hydrological condition of Kariba Dam is that last week, the dam was 32% full and last Monday it was 29% full and if the trend continues we will not have power.

“My ministry views the mining sector as a key partner, but the sad reality is that the sector owes ZESA US$200 million and I think we need to sit down and see how best we can address this issues because that is how operations are affected,” Chasi said.

Kariba, the largest electricity producer in the country with a capacity of 1 050MW, is generating less than a third of its installed capacity due to the water levels caused by drought.

Last year, Zimbabwe commissioned an additional 300MW at Kariba, its biggest investment in two decades, but lack of investment is blamed for the current power outages.

Zesa Holdings has been demanding payment of its bills from the mining sector in forex, but the miners have been resisting the move. The power utility company has been demanding payment in forex at the backdrop of a US$80 million arrears owed to Eskom OF South Africa and Mozambique’s Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa.

An estimated ZWL$1,07 billion is owed to Zimbabwe Electricity and Distribution Company (ZETDC), a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings, with the biggest culprits being local authorities, big companies and domestic consumers.