A deal to import 300MW from South Africa’s power utility Eskom is being finalised as government seeks to augment Zimbabwe’s dwindling power supplies, businessdigest has established.
Sources said the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe is negotiating with its South African counterparts to supply 300MW of electricity.
Ferrochrome and platinum refineries are not operating at full capacity at the moment owing to a decline in commodity prices.
As a result of this, the ferrochrome industry has excess dedicated power supplied by Eskom.
“The payment modalities between the chamber and the South African mining sector are being finalised,” a source said.
“The same refineries import Zimbabwean chrome ore and PGM concentrate and matte. So this is also in their best interest.”
The South African platinum refinery and the ferrochrome industries are relying on Zimbabwean ore.
Eskom has been reluctant to supply power directly to Zesa because of a lingering debt the struggling power utility has failed to pay.
The deal will see household consumers being spared severe power outages.
The Zambezi River Authority, an organisation responsible for the management of water in the Zambezi basin, is now rationing water supplies to conserve the resource until the dam levels have risen to the requisite levels.
The move saw Zimbabwe cutting electricity generation from its normal 750MW to 475MW.
Should the water levels at the dam fall further, power generation will have to be stopped, a situation which will result in the power utility rolling out intense load shedding throughout Zimbabwe.
The lake level at the end of July was 480,81 metres above sea level.
This was five metres below last year’s level.
Continuing generating electricity at the current levels would result in the lake falling below the minimum drawdown level of 475,5 metres before the onset of the next rainy season, a situation which might lead to a possible shut down of the power station.
The water rationing is meant to conserve the water resources generation of electricity to continue. Zimbabwean companies have been hit hard by the energy crisis.
The country’s sole ammonium nitrate fertiliser manufacturer, Sable Chemicals, on Sunday shut down operations at its electrolysis plant due to the country’s debilitating power shortages.
At its peak, the Kwekwe-based firm consumed 80 megawatts (MW) before it recently scaled down to 40MW after shutting down five out of 10 electrolysis units.
Zesa further scaled down power supplies to the company, forcing the firm to shut down the entire production unit on Sunday.
Sable becomes the biggest casualty of the power crisis so far. By 2020, 164mw would be required in the mining sector up from the current 126mw.
Zesa is charging platinum sector 8,5USc/kwh, gold 12,5USc/kwh with the chrome miners enjoying a fair charge of 6,7US/ kWh.