THE Zimbabwean government has asked major mining firms to cut power consumption by up to 25 percent as it moves to ease massive power cuts that have disrupted commercial and industrial activities in the country.
Zimbabwe is battling acute power shortages that have resulted in prolonged load shedding. Urban residents are going for up to 18 hours a day without electricity as power is only availed between 10 pm and 4 am.
Zimbabwe, with a chronicle power shortage issue, plunged into the crisis after generation at two major power plants drastically fell. Water levels in Kariba Hydro-electric Station were at historic low while the Hwange Thermal Power Station underwent routine maintenance.
Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge was quoted by the state-run Herald newspaper Wednesday as saying that security cantonments should also load-shed non-critical areas to ease power outages.
“Noting that there are some large users of power such as Mimosa, Unki, Zimplats, Zimasco, Zim Alloys and Afrochine, these are to be asked to drop load by up to 25 percent,” the minister said. “It would be up to these large power users to decide on which areas of their operations to load-shed.”
Undenge said the move would reduce Harare’s load-shedding to about six hours.
He said load shedding will also be introduced in the central business districts of Harare and Bulawayo to save electricity and reduce the duration residents go without electricity.
The government has since urged companies to switch to working during the night when power is available to minimize production losses.
A comment could not be immediately obtained from the Chamber of Mines which represents the mining firms affected.
Mining is Zimbabwe’s second largest export earner after agriculture and accounted for 16 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2013, a major rise from 4 percent contribution to GDP in 1999. Zimbabwe is the world’s major producer of chrome, nickel, and platinum, in particular.
But growth in the mining sector was however anaemic in recent years due to weak mineral prices on the international market. – ANA