Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
SHURUGWI-based platinum producer Unki Mines is set to construct a 30 to 50 megawatts solar photovoltaic (PV) facility to enhance the provision of alternative power to the company’s operations and contribute to the Government’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Zimbabwe has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2050 to avert the catastrophic impacts of climate change.The country is a member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, whose major objective is to stabilise and bring down greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
This objective is being fulfilled through the Paris Agreement of 2015 on Climate Change, which mandates all countries to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through Nationally Determined Contributions. Each country is required to set itself targets on how to reduce emissions and these targets are then reviewed every five years.
Zimbabwe is currently emitting 0,05 percent of all greenhouse emissions, lower than it is capturing. The country has developed the Low Emission Strategy 2020-2050, which identifies mitigation actions to help keep global warming under 1,5 degrees Celsius. Zimbabwe’s mining firms are pressing ahead to secure their own power to avoid intermittent blackouts that have always been a setback. But apart from securing power supplies, the mining industry has adopted strategies that protect the environment.
Many of them want to switch to environmentally friendly power sources in line with a global push. Anglo American Unki Mines Private Limited (Unki Mine) joins other giant companies in the country such as Caledonia Mining Corporation (CMC) and PPC Zimbabwe that are taking a lead in embracing solar energy.
President Mnangagwa last month commended CMC for installing a solar plant at its Blanket Mine unit in Gwanda, Matabeleland South and urged mining houses and industry to increase internal power generation capacity within their enterprises for their own use.
PPC Zimbabwe, the subsidiary of South African cement manufacturing giant, Pretoria Portland Cement Limited (PPC Ltd.), officially commenced construction of two solar energy plants with a combined energy output of 30 megawatts (MW) to power its Zimbabwe operations.
At its Bulawayo plant, PPC Zimbabwe will set up a 10MW solar energy plant, of which 5MW is earmarked for internal use, with the excess fed to the national grid.
Platinum Group Metals (PGM) producer Mimosa Mining Company (MMC) has also put in motion plans to construct a solar power plant in Zvishavane with feasibility studies said to be at an advanced stage.The alternative energy project buttresses the country’s shift towards investments in clean energy sources in keeping with global climate change adaptation and mitigation commitments.
At a time when the country and the region are experiencing subdued energy generation, investment in alternative energy projects by such big companies is expected to go a long way in capacitating the company to tackle power outages and trimming down on expensive costs associated with alternative power while enhancing operational efficiencies.
Unki Mines general manager Mr Walter Nemasasi confirmed the development yesterday.
He said the solar plant will go a long way in alleviating power challenges for the mining giant and the community. “Unki Mines is set to construct a 30 to 50 megawatts solar photovoltaic (PV) facility to enhance the provision of alternative power to the company’s operations and contribute to the Government’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Target commissioning is the first half of 2025. Other details will be made available when all agreements are concluded,” said Mr Nemasasi.
In a public notice, the mine said it is in the process of applying for an Environmental Impact Assessment certificate (EIC) and has invited the relevant stakeholders for engagements over the power generation project.“Notice is hereby given that the Anglo American Unki Mines Private Limited (Unki Mine), an Anglo-American subsidiary company, intends to apply for an Environmental Impact Assessment Certificate (EIC) via an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) to be undertaken in line with the Zimbabwean Environmental Management Act (Chapter 20: 27) (Act No. 13 of 2002),” reads part of the notice.
The ESIA, the notice said will meet international lender standards. “Unki Mine is applying for an EIC to develop a 30-50-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) facility and associated infrastructure on an approximately 138-hectare (ha) parcel of land within the Unki Mining Lease Area (UMLA),” reads part of the notice.