After raising US$13M, Caledonia Mining Corporation Plc, a company primarily involved in the operation of a gold mine, and the exploration and development of mineral properties for precious metals has awarded Voltalia, a French-based international company in the renewable energy sector, a contract to construct the proposed 12MW Blanket Mine solar power plant in Zimbabwe.
The French renewable energy firm will carry out the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) of the project in several phases with the first phase allowing for planning after the signing of the EPC contract with Voltalia. The initial phase will lead to the procurement and construction, subject to the conclusion of an EPC contract between the two firms.
Sitting on a 40-hectare site, the firm is expected to begin supplying power to the Blanket gold mine by the end of the current year.
Expectations for the project
The completion of the implementation of the project is expected to significantly help improve the quality of grid power of Blanket mine through the inflation of 27% of the mine’s total electricity demand as well as reduce any further deterioration that would necessitate increased use of diesel generators which is a more expensive energy source than grid power.
According to Caledonia Mining Corporation Plc, the clean energy project is aimed at not only to reduce the ecological footprint of the Blanket mine but also to minimize the impact of load shedding caused by the obsolescence and production shortfall of Zimbabwe’s national electricity grid.
The load shedding problem is aggravated by the drought that is causing the level of the Kariba Dam, Zimbabwe’s main electricity generating infrastructure, to go down. With a capacity of 1,319 MW, Kariba Dam supplies electricity to the national power grids of Zimbabwe and Zambia.