BY Matabeleland North Correspondent
PLAYERS in the mining industry reportedly owe State power supplier, Zesa over $200 million in unpaid electricity bills making it difficult for the parastatal utility to provide efficient services.
Faced with perennial power shortages, the country supplements supplies with imports from the region and the power utility Zesa owes regional suppliers, particularly Eskom of South Africa and Mozambique’s (Hydro Cahora Bassa) a total of $83 million for electricity imports.
Zesa has been struggling to service its debts resulting in threats of being cut-off. Energy Minister Fortune Chasi appealed to players in the mining industry to settle their debts and do so in foreign currency.
He was speaking ahead of the official opening of the annual mining indaba in Victoria Falls by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“This mining industry owes the power utility $200 million and we are appealing to this sector to settle its debts or make payment plans,” said Chasi.
The Energy Minister said government had resolved going forward, to have constant monitoring of the industry for good corporate governance.
Chasi said the electricity shortages were not peculiar to Zimbabwe but affecting the whole region.
Power generation at Kariba has fallen to critical levels due to low water levels and Chasi suggested Zimbabwe is already looking up to next year.
“Our strategies are therefore informed by hydrological activity along the Zambezi. The Hwange and other small thermal power stations are also affected by obsolete equipment and these together with foreign currency challenges affect power availability,” added Chasi.
He said government is planning to engage the mining sector to chat a way forward with a view to rationalising power supply to key sectors of the economy.
The Minister encouraged private corporates to invest in solar energy to cushion electricity supply.
During conference deliberations, representatives of the mining sector complained about intensive power cuts which they said are affecting production.
A fully functional mine requires more than 10 hours of non-stop power supply per day yet currently some go for about four days without power, outgoing Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines president Batirai Manhando told the meeting.
The mining industry consumes the bulk of electricity in the country.