Load-shedding crisis: Miners meet Zesa

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Anxious mines bosses held meetings with Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) amid worries over the extended load-shedding schedule, which will seriously affect the viability of the mining sector, businessdigest has established.

Kudzai Kuwaza

The power utility, through its subsidiary, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission & Distribution Company (ZEDTC), last week announced a load-shedding schedule showing power would be cut for as long as 18 hours on some days.

This was attributed to low water levels at Kariba Power Station, generation constraints at Hwange Power Station and limited imports.

“In the event of further deterioration of the current available power supply, the level and duration of load-shedding may go beyond the advertised schedules,” ZETDC warned in a statement.

Mining sector officials held meetings with Zesa to find ways to ameliorate the impact of the prolonged power cuts.

“We are extremely worried about the load-shedding programme that has been introduced by Zesa,” a Chamber of Mines official told businessdigest this week.

“We have held meetings with Zesa to discuss the situation.”

Fears around the impact of the load-shedding on the sector are mainly centred on how this will affect base metal miners for minerals such as platinum which require intensive use of power, the official said.

Another major concern, the official said, was the impact the power cuts would have on the gold mining sector which is already reeling from falling prices on the global market.

“Although it is too early to determine the full impact of the load-shedding, closure of some mines as a result of the power cuts is a possibility,” the official warned.

The power cuts are likely to worsen the country’s economic malaise characterised by a disabling liquidity crunch, low capacity utilisation, company closures and massive job losses worsened by the July 17 Supreme Court Ruling which allowed employers to terminate workers’ contracts on three-months’ notices, which resulted in more than 20 000 job losses.

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