Impala, Anglo American Asked to Cut Zimbabwe Power Usage by 25%

  • Energy minister says `little power' available must be shared
  • Water shortages at Lake Kariba reducing hydropower supply

Zimbabwe’s government has asked Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and other mining companies, the nation’s biggest foreign-currency earners, to reduce power usage by 25 percent amid a water shortage that’s cut hydropower supply.

Mining companies and manufacturers need to accommodate other players in the economy and “share the little power we have,” Energy Minister Samuel Undenge said in an interview on Wednesday in Harare, the capital. The government is willing to hold talks with industries concerned by the effect of the electricity restrictions, he said.

Water shortages at Lake Kariba, which powers hydro-electric turbines used by Zambia and Zimbabwe, have led to severe electricity deficits this year that are worsening the growth outlook for both economies at a time of falling commodity prices. Reduced power output at the aging Hwange thermal plant in Zimbabwe has added to the crisis, leaving the country in the dark for as long as 24 hours a day.

“We’re headed for serious recession with this directive on cutting power further in industry and mining,” Busisa Moyo, president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, said by phone. “There’s now a negative perception from the business sector that government doesn’t want us to grow.”

Zimbabwe has the largest platinum reserves after South Africa and also mines chrome, gold and iron ore. Other mining companies that run operations in the country include Aquarius Platinum Ltd., Metallon Corp. and Sinosteel Corp.

The Chamber of Mines has held talks with Zesa Holdings Ltd., the state-owned power utility, though the “situation is not looking good,” Isaac Kwesu, the chamber’s chief executive officer, said by phone.

“It means that our mining targets for this year may be missed, not only this year, but also in 2016, 2017,” he said. “The situation is precarious for the mining industry. The water situation will take another two years to be solved.”

In July, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa halved his forecast for economic growth this year to 1.5 percent because of drought. The economy is struggling to cope with foreign-currency shortages, high unemployment and deflation.

— With assistance by Godfrey Marawanyika

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