HARARE (Reuters) – Mwana Africa’s gold mine in Zimbabwe, Freda Rebecca, has asked the government to cut its electricity tariff by up to 28 percent because it says current rates are punitive, a company official said on Saturday.

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Toendepi Muganyi, the general manager of Freda Rebecca, said power charges of 14 cents per kilowatt-hour levied on gold mines were too high.

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“Currently the 14 cents is punitive for the gold mining industry,” Muganyi told Reuters during a visit to the mine in the town of Bindura, 88 kilometres north of the capital Harare.

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“We have aired our grievance … and request that there be a review to close to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour,” Muganyi said, adding that electricity accounts for 14 percent of total gold production cost.

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Freda Rebecca is the single largest gold mine in Zimbabwe and plans to increase gold output to about 70,000 ounces this year from 60,000 ounces previously, Muganyi said.

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Mwana Africa also owns the Trojan nickel mine through locally listed Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) in Bindura and is raising money to modify and upgrade a smelter at the mine.

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BNC managing director Batirai Manhando said once the funds are available, the project would be finished within 12 months.

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On completion of the smelter upgrade, BNC, which has an off-take agreement with Glencore, would be able to export nickel alloy, compared to nickel concentrates currently.

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The smelter and the mine shut in 2008, at the height of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis, due to low nickel prices.

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The mine restarted production in Feb. 2013 and is producing 7,000 tonnes of nickel concentrate, however the smelter is still out of production.

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