By Darlington Gatsi
VICTORIA Falls stock exchange listed gold producer, Caledonia Mining corporation, has erected a solar power plant at Blanket Mine which began generating power yesterday, to hedge itself from electricity challenges that are gripping the country.
The country is currently experiencing power shortages, which have seen some households go more than six hours without power, which has been attributed to breakdown in generation Units.
To guard against load-shedding, Caledonia began installing a solar power plant which will generate 12.2 Megawatts of power last year.
To circumvent the power challenges, the company resorted to utilising diesel as an alternative, but it has argued that it was costly.
The solar plant will benefit the Blanket mining area and in due course is estimated to provide 27 percent of electricity in the area.
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Chief Executive Officer, Mark Learmonth, said the power plant will be a massive boost to the mining company as it will enjoy uninterrupted power supply in the face of load-shedding.
“I am delighted that the solar plant is connected to the Blanket grid and from today Blanket will start to receive some of its energy directly from solar.
“With 21 percent of Blanket’s on-mine costs relating to energy usage, this solar plant is a very important project for the company as it will improve the quality and security of Blanket’s electricity supply and provide environmental benefits through cleaner energy.
“The solar power will displace more expensive power from the grid and from the diesel generators and is expected to reduce Caledonia’s consolidated cost per ounce of gold produced by approximately $37.”
The mining company completed the purchase of Blanket Mine in 2006 from Kinross and has since grown its footprint in the local mining industry.
In 2010 it opened shaft number four, which has increased its outputs from 500 to 3,000 ounces of gold daily and has set a target of producing 80 000 ounces per annum.