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South African-owned miner confirms 185 MW solar plan for Zimbabwe

The International Renewable Energy Agency estimated Zimbabwe had just 17 MW of grid-connected solar capacity at the end of 2020.
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South African-owned miner Zimbabwe Platinum has confirmed plans trailed by French-language, African business website Ecofin to spend US$201 million on 185 MW of solar generation capacity at two of its sites.

Zimplats, which is owned by South African holding company Impala Platinum, outlined its ten-year capital spending plans in an update to the Australian Stock Exchange last week which included details of a US$201 million investment in what was described as “a 185 MW solar plant” being developed, in part, “to maintain Zimplats[‘] licence to operate.”

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The Ecofin article published in August stated the miner would devote US$200 million to two solar facilities: a 105 MW array in Ngezi, southwest of Zimbabwean capital Harare, to power mining operations; and an 80 MW facility for a Zimplats foundry in Selous.

Ecofin reported the miner currently draws power from the Cahora Bassa hydropower plant in Mozambique because of the unreliability of local supply. The solar investment was signed off by Harare as part of a US$1.4 billion commitment by Zimplats to expand its Zimbabwean operations, according to Ecofin.

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The stock exchange update issued by the miner stated Zimplats’ board has already approved plans for US$1.2 billion of the US$1.8 billion allocated for a ten-year spending plan which will begin this year, and also includes US$516 million to maintain current output through upgrades and mine replacement; US$969 million to expand operations, including with a new mine; and US$100 million to refurbish a mothballed base metal refinery.

Trade body the Africa Solar Industry Association in July said Zimplats is planning to install 200 MW of solar capacity at its Mimosa platinum mine in Bannockburn, Zimbabwe, but no mention was made of that facility in the company’s ten-year investment plan.

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Source: pv magazine