Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange (ZSE) listed multi-commodity miner, RioZim, has engaged Japanese renewable energy company Univergy, to build four solar power stations with capacity to produce 100 megawatts to supply cheaper energy to four of the group’s biggest mines, sources say.
Although finer details remain largely sketchy, The Herald Business understands that RioZim is working with Japanese partner firm Univergy on the plans to build four solar power plants each with capacity for 25MW to power the four mines.
Univergy is a business group with Hispanic-Japanese origins, focused on the renewable energy sector, with special interest in the development, construction and operation of photovoltaic solar energy projects, as well as in its multiple domestic, industrial and agricultural applications.
The gold mines targeted under the initiative are Renco, Cam and Motor, Murowa Diamond and Dalny. As part of efforts to tap into Zimbabwe’s abundant solar energy, the Zimbabwe Power Company in 2016 engaged companies to build three solar plants, but there has been little progress by all three contractors.
While in use, solar panels create absolutely no waste or emissions, unlike fossil fuel power plants, they produce clean, renewable energy from a fuel source that requires no locating, excavation, transportation, or combustion.
Above solar is a simpler, cheaper, cleaner, and all-around better energy solution.
A high-powered delegation from Univergy was expected in the country last week to tie up loose ends to the framework, which the parties want to follow.
“We are doing solar because no one has so far done solar power in Zimbabwe and also the cost of solar power plants have gone down. We also want stability of power supply to all our mines, so we are putting solar power at Renco Mine, Murowa Diamonds, Cam and Motor and Dalny Mine.
“So the idea is that during the day if we get more than what we need we will put into the national grid and at night we also draw from the grid; so it is net metering. So we have our partners; Japanese partners who we want to work with,” the source that cannot be named said.
RioZim has also recently enlisted China Power to build a 1 200MW coal powered electricity plant in Gokwe North, which is estimated to cost $2,1 billion. The power will be sold both on domestic and regional export markets.
At present, Univergy has business activities in Germany, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Argentina, Spain, Korea, Australia, the United States, the Netherlands, France and Egypt, where it develops a project portfolio of more than 2,6 GW in total.
In Japan, Univergy owns a portfolio of photovoltaic projects that exceeds 1 Gigawatt, in addition to actively participating in the development and implementation of various projects carried out by other companies.
RioZim was incorporated on August 29, 1956 as Rio Tinto Southern Rhodesia Ltd. It was set up initially to develop and mine the Empress Nickel deposit in the Midlands and was the first mining operation to be set up outside Europe by Rio Tinto Plc.
RioZim separated from Rio Tinto plc in 2004 and became a wholly owned Zimbabwean company that produces gold, coal, toll refines nickel and copper. The company is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE).