Caledonia switches on new solar plant at Blanket Mine
Caledonia Mining announced on Monday that the new solar plant at Blanket Mine was now starting to generate power.
The AIM-traded firm said Blanket currently receives its power from Zimbabwe's national electricity supplier, ZESA.
In recent years, that supply had been subject to load-shedding and unstable power, it claimed, which had economic and safety implications for an underground mine such as Blanket.
During outages or low voltages, the power supply at Blanket has been 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, Caledonia explained.
Its board said that recognising the economic, environmental and logistical challenges of running large-scale diesel generators for extended periods, it started constructing the 12.2 MWac solar plant late last year.
As of Monday the solar plant was providing power to Blanket and in due course it was expected to provide about 27% of the mine’s average daily electricity demand.
“With 21% 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,” said chief executive officer Mark Learmonth.
“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.”
At the close on Monday, shares in Caledonia Mining Corporation were up 2.98% at 1,037.5p.
Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.