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Blanket Mine forges ahead with US$12m solar plant

By Rutendo Nyeve

Mining and Metals Company, Blanket Mines is forging ahead with its US$12 million solar project as it seeks to mitigate power challenges that have been hampering production.

Blanket Mine
Blanket Mine

Speaking during a recent visit by the Mines and Mining Development Parliamentary Portfolio Committee to the Gwanda based mine, Blanket Mine vice-president Mr Caxton Mangezi said disrupted power supplies were one of the major problems that has been affecting production.

“The mining industry is driven by energy or electricity and as you might know our country is facing a huge power crisis with the national grid having a major shortfall.

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In addition to that there are frequent breakdowns which all curtail production in our sector. We have tried using diesel powered generators and you would know the cost that comes with that. However, we are investing US$12 million to put up a solar plant which we hope will curb the challenge.”

Chairperson of the Committee Edmond Mkaratigwa said electricity was a big challenge among miners hence the need to increase investment in the sector

“There was a challenge to do with shortage of electricity or where there is electricity in terms of consistency of supply we have power cuts or serious breakdowns which affect mining operations and they(Blanket Mine) are actually coming up with a solar power plant but it is not big enough. They are hoping to stick to their co-business of mining while our power utility company provides sufficient energy for the mining sector,” he said.

Speaking during a recent launch of the 2021 Mining Industry Report by the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe in Harare, ZETDC acting managing director Engineer Howard Choga, however, said some mining companies were also not paying for electricity.

“Currently, mining sector companies owe the power utility a total US$37 million and $400 billion in local currency.

The money owed is in operating payments plans, that’s how we have arrived at the balance. Those not paid up will be switched off,” he said. The Sunday News