Rio Tinto plans power sales to SA’s Eskom from $2.1bn Zimbabwe plant

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RIO Tinto Group, the world’s second-biggest mining company, and RioZim Ltd. are looking for regional utilities to buy electricity from a 1,400-megawatt power plant they’re planning to build in Zimbabwe for about $2.1 billion.
“For the project to be visible, there is a need for off- takers,” RioZim Chief Executive Officer Noah Matimba said by phone Thursday. “We are looking for various partners.”
Zimbabwe rations power daily, producing and importing about 1,300 megawatts of electricity against demand of about 2,200 megawatts.
Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned power utility, is implementing regular rolling blackouts across the country following plant malfunctions and shutdowns due to maintenance.
Rio Tinto and RioZim, equal partners in the Sengwa plant, are working on raising funds through equity and debt for the facility, Matimba said in May. Of the $2.1 billion needed, $50 million will be for the coal mine that will supply the station.
Sengwa is in talks with Eskom for the utility to buy production from the plant, Energy Minister Samuel Undenge told lawmakers Thursday.
But Khulu Phasiwe, a spokesman for Eskom, said by phone that no discussions are taking place.
RioZim, which mines gold, diamonds and coal in Zimbabwe, holds a minority share in Rio Tinto’s Murowa diamond mine.Advertisement