Caledonia appoints solar plant contractor as it eyes Zim govt mines

By Gilbert Nyambabvu

CANADA-BASED resources group, Caledonia Mining Corporation, has appointed Euronext Paris-listed Voltalia to build a 12MW solar power plant at Blanket Gold Mine in Zimbabwe.

An international renewable energy provider, Voltalia was said to have considerable experience in the delivery of renewable energy projects including the development, construction, operation and maintenance of solar power plants. It is already active notably in Burundi, Malawi and South Africa.

“Caledonia looks forward to working closely with Voltalia to deliver a successful project at the Blanket Mine which, on completion, is expected to provide approximately 27% of the mine’s total electricity demand,” Caledonia said in a statement.

“This will significantly reduce the risk to the mine of any further deterioration in the quality of grid power which would necessitate increased use of diesel generators (which are substantially more expensive than grid power).”

The solar power plant will provide about 27 percent of Gwanda-based Blanket’s electricity demand and is expected to be commissioned in December next year.

It will, “significantly reducing the risk to the mine of any further deterioration in the quality of grid power which would necessitate increased use of diesel generators (which are substantially more expensive than grid power)”.

The development comes after Caledonia sealed an agreement with the Zimbabwe government which will see the company “evaluate mining rights, properties and/or projects in the gold sector that are controlled by the Government with a view to assessing the potential to advance development on these properties or projects”.

The company said it believes Zimbabwe “is a highly prospective region for gold discoveries”.

Management said the company “has assessed and continues to assess
investment opportunities in the gold sector that are privately owned”.

“However, the Government of Zimbabwe has a considerable portfolio of assets in the gold sector that are potentially very attractive and Caledonia and the Government have therefore entered into an agreement whereby Caledonia is provided an opportunity to review this portfolio to determine whether they may be commercially developed for mutual benefit,” the company said in a statement.

Commenting on the agreement, Steve Curtis, Chief Executive Officer said: “I am delighted we have reached this agreement which will give Caledonia access to a new and much increased number of potential investment opportunities in the Zimbabwe gold sector.

“The signing of this agreement is very timely: Blanket Mine, Caledonia’s current investment in Zimbabwe, is approaching the end of a multi-year, +$60 million investment in a new shaft.

“When this project is completed later this year, Blanket’s annual gold
production is expected to increase from approximately 55,000 ounces to approximately 80,000 ounces per annum from 2022 onwards.

“The increased level of production, in conjunction with the higher gold price, means that we should have the financial capacity to consider further meaningful investments in the Zimbabwe gold sector.”