ZIMBABWE – Canada-based Caledonia Mining has revealed plans to invest $13 million it raised from a recent share issuance to back the development of a solar plant at its Blanket gold mine near Gwanda, Zimbabwe.

The New York Stock Exchange listed mining and exploration company plans to build the US$18 million photovoltaic (PV) project in three 6.55 MW phases and expects the second stage of the facility to generate enough electricity to meet peak demand at the mine, with the third stage of the project expected to meet future peak power demand at the Blanket site.

A statement from the company indicated that the excess power generated by the plant would, subject to the conclusion of a banking agreement with the utility provider, be metered and dispatched onto the grid with excess kilowatt-hours banked or credited against Blanket’s monthly utility account.

“The bankability of the banking agreement is therefore critical for the success of phase two” the company added.

Zimbabwe desperately needs new power generation capacity as it imports much of its electricity from South Africa.

This arrangement has become problematic due to ongoing issues related to the troubled South African utility Eskom.

To minimize the impact of frequent power shortages, Caledonia Mining is operating diesel generators with a generation capacity of 18.4 MW at the Blanket mine, which is enough to provide around 3% of the mining site’s power needs.

The mining company recently posted gross revenues $22.9 million in revenues for the second quarter of 2020, a 39% increase from the same period last year.

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