Power outages threaten RioZim

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Taurai Mangudhla

Listed miner RioZim has said acute power outages pose significant risk to its energy intensive operations.

The outages have seen parts of the grid going for 20 hours without electricity in a day.

This comes as the company bemoans international gold price volatility, rising costs and complications arising from a controlled interbank rate that does not reflect the rate at which local goods and services are priced.

As a result, the company is embarking on two major energy projects; the Solar Power Project and the Sengwa Thermal Power Project in order to generate its own electricity and ensure uninterrupted power supply for national consumption, CEO Bheki Nkomo told shareholders at the company’s AGM on Monday.

Nkomo said RioZim intends to establish solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants with a total capacity of 178 Megawatts (MW) at four mining locations—Murowa Diamonds Mine, Cam & Motor Gold Mine, Renco Gold Mine and Dalny Gold Mine.

“We estimate that at this scale, this would be the largest consolidated solar plant in the country,” Nkomo said.

The company has entered into binding co-operation agreements with a leading international player, for the design and development of solar PV power stations up to ready to build stage.  RioZim has also engaged and signed a framework agreement with another internationally renowned partner to put forward an EPC and financing proposal for the solar initiative.

To date, RioZim has completed original designs, grid impact assessment reports and the technical appraisal of the project.

Going forward, EPC designs, costing and proposals, financial closure and ZERA generation licence application are being pursued.

Power purchase agreements with ZETDC and environmental and social impact studies and reports will also be made for the US$200 million.

Giving an update on Sengwa, Nkomo said the company has signed framework and exclusivity agreements with Power China in November 2018.

Full design and feasibility of the power station is complete with route and design of the water supply pipeline from the Zambezi River also completed.

A design of the 420kV power evacuation lines from Sengwa to Selous is also complete together with a coal mining plan and fuel coal delivery to the station.

Next steps now include completion of development of the Sengwa/Gokwe North residential town, conclusion of the power purchase agreement with ZETDC, securing of water abstraction permit with ZINWA and Zambezi River Authority as well as updating and completing environmental and social impact studies for all aspects of the project.

The EPC contract for the US$1,5 billion Sengwa project will be finalised.

At Cam & Motor Mine, Nkomo said, the company intends to install a US$20million BIOX Plant to treat sulphide ore.

He said third party relocations will be continued to enable increased mining flexibility with the plant stabilisation and expansion project also being pursued.

Exploration continues at Murowa while slag dump treatment at Empress Nickel Refinery is also underway to generate cash flows that will cover care and maintenance costs and preserve the integrity of the plant.