Zimbabwe in talks with Chinese firm on power plant

HARARE – Zimbabwe's government is in talks with China Railway International over plans to build a 1,000 megawatt coal-fired power plant to ease the southern African country's electricity shortages, its energy minister said on Thursday.

\r\n

Zimbabwe’s ageing plants produce around 1,000 MW, half of its peak demand, a power supply deficit which has paralysed mines and industry.

\r\n\r\n

Energy Minister Elton Mangoma said Zimbabwe was considering several options to expand output at existing facilities, while pursuing new projects, including the Western Areas coal project in Hwange where a 1,000 MW thermal plant is planned.

\r\n\r\n

In a statement to parliament, Mangoma said state-owned Zimbabwe Power Co (ZPC) was in talks with China Railway International, a subsidiary of China Railway Group, to jointly run a coal mine that would supply the proposed plant.

\r\n\r\n

“Promising negotiations are underway with China Railway International,” Mangoma said. He did not say how much the project would cost, but said the plant would take between three and four years to finish.

\r\n\r\n

Zimbabwe has short-listed bids for the expansion of its Hwange thermal station and the Kariba hydro-plant to boost their combined output by 900 MW.

\r\n\r\n

Independent power producers with projects that have the potential to generate a total of 5,000 MW have been licensed but are yet to start work.

\r\n\r\n

However, analysts say Zimbabwe is unlikely to attract significant foreign investment due to President Robert Mugabe’s drive to force foreign firms, including mines and banks, to turn over 51 percent shareholdings to locals under an empowerment law. 

\r\n