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Zim diamond mines to set up own power

Sep 11 2011 11:52 Sapa-DPA

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Harare - A handful of diamond mining companies affected by crippling power cuts in Zimbabwe have been forced to set up their own dedicated 36-million-dollar power line, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The five companies with operations in Chiadzwa diamond fields, in the east of the country, would have to raise at least 60% of the total cost of installing the line, the official Sunday Mail reported.

According to the report, "erratic" power supplies meant miners' efforts to realize their full potential were "stifled".

The city of Mutare, about 100km from Chiadzwa, would be the source electricity. Mutare and its surrounding areas are badly hit by power cuts, which occur three or four days a week and often last for up to 16 hours.

Zimbabwe's cash-strapped state power utility is owed more than $100m by consumers. Earlier this month, it caused an uproar by raising tariffs by an average of more than 30%.

If the mining companies pay for the power line, they will only be charged half the going tariff, said the Sunday Mail.

Diamonds were first discovered in Chiadzwa in 2006, sparking a gold-style rush to the area before the military drove out illegal miners in 2008. Human rights groups said up to 200 of them were killed in the operation.

Separate reports Sunday said diamonds have recently been discovered in Murehwa, 79km from the capital Harare, sparking another rush. Mines Minister Obert Mpofu was quoted as saying he would send geologists to investigate.

power cuts  |  zimbabwe
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