Caledonia Mining Corporation Plc (LON:CMCL) has announced that the new solar plant at Blanket Mine will today start to generate power.
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, which has 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. Recognising the economic, environmental and logistical challenges of running large-scale diesel generators for extended periods, Caledonia started constructing the 12.2 MWac solar plant late in 2021. As from today, the solar plant will provide power to Blanket; in due course it is expected that the solar plant will provide approximately 27 per cent of Blanket’s average daily electricity demand.
Commenting on the announcement, Mark Learmonth, Chief Executive Officer, said:
“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.
“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 $37.”