Zimbabwe: Gov’t asks big mines to cut down power by 25%

Zimbabwe’s government has asked Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and other mining companies to reduce power usage by 25 percent amid a water shortage that cuts hydropower supply.

“It would be up to these large power users to decide on which areas of their operations to load-shed. This is expected to yield 25 megawatts,” Samuel Undenge, the energy minister told lawmakers in a speech published by the official parliament journal on Wednesday.

Mining companies in Zimbabwe are already struggling with low commodity prices as well as demands by President Robert Mugabe’s government to sell majority stakes to locals under a black economic empowerment program.

“It would be up to these large power users to decide on which areas of their operations to load-shed. This is expected to yield 25 megawatts,” Undenge said.

Undenge said electricity supply to residential areas and noncritical areas for the military and police would also be cut

Zimbabwe has the largest platinum reserves after South Africa and also mines chrome, gold and iron ore. Other mining companies operating in the country include Aquarius Platinum Ltd., Metallon Corp. and Sinosteel Corp.

The mining sector contributes more than half of Zimbabwe’s export earnings.

The Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe, which represents large mines, said mining companies had been previously guaranteed by the state electricity firm that they would not face power cuts.

In July, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa halved his forecast for economic growth this year to 1.5 percent because of drought. The economy is struggling to cope with foreign-currency shortages, high unemployment and deflation.

About Geraldine Boechat 1986 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia