Caledonia is committed to maintaining the highest environmental standards such that its operations do not present an unacceptable risk to its employees, the public or the environment.
Caledonia’s commitment to sustainable development requires it to integrate environmental considerations into business decisions. Proper use and management of the world’s limited resources and the environment is a major responsibility for the mining industry in general and for the business.
Zimbabwe Solar Project
Blanket Mine currently uses grid power as its primary source of electricity augmented by standby diesel generators to cover periods when grid power is either interrupted or the voltage is unstable.
The bulk of the grid power in Zimbabwe is usually generated by the Kariba hydro power plant on the Zambezi and by a coal-fired power station at Hwange. However, low water levels in the Zambezi have substantially reduced the generating capacity at Kariba and maintenance issues have also reduced the power generated at Hwange.
To make up the shortfall in local power generation, Zimbabwe imports electricity from South Africa and Mozambique. However, the difficulties in the South African power supply sector have been well publicised and exports from South Africa to Zimbabwe are suspended during periods when South Africa is unable to satisfy its own domestic requirements. Imports have also been adversely affected by late payment for historic deliveries.
To minimise the adverse effect of power interruptions, Blanket has installed diesel generators with a capacity of 18.4MWa which is sufficient to maintain full production and to continue development and capital projects during power outages. However, Caledonia recognises that the use of diesel generators is not a long-term solution: as well as diesel-generated electricity being expensive and being subject to supply of diesel, it is also environmentally unsustainable.
As a result, and in a general move towards long term sustainability, at the end of 2019 Caledonia invited bidders to tender for the provision of a turn-key solar plant to provide at least some of the mine’s power demands.
In September 2020 Caledonia announced that it had raised the funds required to construct a 12 MW solar plant, by way of an ‘At The Market’ sales process on the NYSE American. Pursuant to the process, the Company issued almost 600,000 shares and raised US$13million.
Voltalia, an international renewable energy provider with considerable experience in Africa, has been appointed as the contractor for the project, with current indicated commissioning for the plant in the last quarter of 2021.
On completion, it is expected that the plant will provide approximately 27% of the mine’s total electricity demand. This will significantly reduce the risk to the mine of any further deterioration in the quality of grid power which would necessitate increased use of diesel generators. The plant will also reduce Blanket Mine’s environmental footprint.