By Staff Writer
Caledonia Mining Corporation PLC (AIM:CMCL, NYSE-A:CMCL) has brought its new solar power plant at its Blanket mine in Zimbabwe on stream.
Blanket currently receives its power from ZESA, Zimbabwe’s national electricity supplier.
In recent years this supply has been subject to load-shedding and unstable power. This has both economic and safety implications for an underground mine such as Blanket.
During outages or low voltages, the power supply at Blanket had to be supplemented by standby diesel generators to enable uninterrupted mining and capital operations. Diesel-generated electricity is expensive, subject to an unpredictable supply of diesel and creates an unfavourable environmental footprint.
Accordingly, Caledonia started constructing the 12.2 MWac solar plant late in 2021. The solar plant is now operational, and in due course it is expected that it will provide approximately 27% of Blanket’s average daily electricity demand.
“I am delighted that the solar plant is connected to the Blanket grid and from today Blanket will start to receive some of its energy directly from solar,” said Mark Learmonth, chief executive of Caledonia.
“With 21 per cent of Blanket’s on-mine costs relating to energy usage, this solar plant is a very important project for the company as it will improve the quality and security of Blanket’s electricity supply and provide environmental benefits through cleaner energy. The solar power will displace more expensive power from the grid and from the diesel generators and is expected to reduce Caledonia’s consolidated cost per ounce of gold produced by approximately US$37.”