Harare to ask coalminers to establish power plants

Harare to ask coalminers to establish power plants

Nokuthula Sibanda

HARARE - Firms applying to mine coal in Zimbabwe will now be required to include plans to set up thermal power plants as the country battles to improve availability of electricity, a top government official said Wednesday.

Government mining promotion and development director Titus Nyatsanga said in helping provide a long-term solution to power shortages, the move would help to spread development across the country which holds vast deposits of coal.

Zimbabwe has vast coal deposits in the Save-Limpopo basin, which includes Matabeleland South province, Masvingo province and the southern parts of Manicaland as well as in the Zambezi basin.

The southern parts do not have a source of power and yet a number of companies are intending to mine coal, said Nyatsanga, who was addressing participants to a joint staff and command course at the army-ran Zimbabwe Staff College.

It is hoped that in a number of years we will have power plants in those parts of the country to augment what the Hwange thermal power station is producing, he said.

Zimbabwe, which is able to generate only about 65 percent of its power requirements, is battling persistent power cuts after foreign suppliers reduced exports to the country as they struggle to meet rising demand in their own domestic markets.

The power shortfall has forced the government’s ZESA energy utility to implement a severe rationing regime which has seen households sometimes going for weeks on end without any supplies as the little electricity available is diverted to productive sectors.

Meanwhile Nyatsanga said the government was looking to amend the Mines and Minerals Act in order to encourage holders of mining claims to exploit them and also to pave way for new entrants into the sector.

The amendments would aim to redress historical imbalances in participation of indigenous blacks in the lucrative mining sector that is currently dominated by whites and foreign owned firms.

To increase players in mining we have had to put such measures to allow others to come in and do business, he said.

President Robert Mugabe’s government earlier this year announced plans to amend the Mines Act to force foreign owned companies to cede 51 percent of their stake in the companies to indigenous ownership or the state.

Multilateral companies and other interested parties raised an outcry at the news, accusing the government of wanting to nationalise their companies.

The opposition MDC party, which now controls Parliament, also criticised the controversial indigenisation plans which it said were just a ploy by powerful politicians of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party to grab private mines the same way they seized farms from whites.


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