Editorial by Thembelani Moyo
3 Minute read
LOCAL mining companies must swiftly act and resort to alternative sources of power to sustain their businesses and the economy as the electricity load shedding is here to stay, if what’s on the ground is anything to go by.
Let’s begin by looking at the mining industry’s role in the Zimbabwean economy. The Chamber of Mines says mining contributes 15% to the GDP. It also accounts for 65% of exports and 50% of foreign direct investments, and more than 45, 000 people are formally employed in the mining industry.
These figures show that Zimbabwe cannot afford a mining industry crippled by blackouts or by anything else; mining is the economy’s backbone.
The long term consequences of power cuts are a collapsed economy and thousands of jobless people, and that’s why mining companies must quickly act and consider other sources of power to continue operating.
Indeed, the solution to the country’s power problem cannot be expected anytime soon owing to a number of reasons.
For example, the Hwange Power Station was commissioned in the 1960’s, and the problems it’s facing at the moment are due to old equipment. It’s unsurprising that the station can no longer produce its installed capacity of 920 MW, yet the station is responsible for 40% of the country’s power needs. If the station remains in bad shape, then blackouts will persist.
On the other hand, drought has reduced Kariba Dam’s capacity to produce enough power. Both Zimbabwe and Zambia rely on the dam for hydropower, and Zambia has also begun rolling out blackouts affecting more than 17 million people. Some say hydropower will soon be less effective due to climate change. Who knows.
As we speak, Rio Zim has already experienced the effects of power cuts and has had its gold output decline. Compared with the 962 kilograms that have so far been produced in 2019, the gold mining company last year produced 1,050 kilograms. This should worry everyone involved in the mining industry.
The call to action is for businesses to wake up and smell the coffee and realise that electricity supplied by the power utility is unreliable; therefore, they must adapt now and be innovative. Stop complaining!