Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Zimbabwean miner RioZim is evaluating proposals from six companies to participate in its $1.2bn power project, as the nation enjoys a return of foreign-investor attention under President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

RioZim, which plans to supply the 700MW Sengwa plant from its own coal operations, is in talks with mainly Chinese groups, including State Power Investment Corp, about the project, Caleb Dengu, RioZim’s director responsible for its energy unit, said on Wednesday.

It expected to conclude negotiations after Zimbabwe’s elections later this year, he said.

"We are inviting companies as both equity investors and debt providers. We are going for 70% debt and 30% equity," Dengu said.

RioZim will participate in both structures.

Zimbabwe’s power consumption has fallen as a result of the closure of fertiliser plants and chrome smelters, but it still imports electricity from neighbours like Mozambique and SA to avoid the outages that plagued industry between 2007 and 2017.

Since replacing former president Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa has courted foreign investment to help revive an economy that has halved in size since 2000.

He has already lifted requirements for most mining companies that they must be at least 51% owned by local black citizens. The so-called indigenisation rule remains in place for platinum and diamonds.

"The country risk has gone down following the change of guard in Zimbabwe," Dengu said. "The repeal of the indigenisation laws has encouraged investors."

RioZim, which has interests in diamond and gold mining as well, is also planning a 100MW solar project to supply its operations.

The company wants to more than double output at its Murowa diamond mine, although the plan would depend on arranging the necessary funding, chairman Lovemore Chihota said in March.