Leonard Ncube in HWANGE
CONSTRUCTION of the $1,4 billion Hwange Expansion Project for Unit 7 and 8 has started in earnest, with the laying of the foundation stone at Hwange Power Station yesterday.
Sinohydro is undertaking the expansion project in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).
The two companies have formed Hwange Electricity Supply Company (HESCO) to implement the project.
Speaking during a tour of the facility yesterday, Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said work is on schedule.
“May I hasten to say since the inception of the expansion works, the project has seen considerable progress on the ground and is on schedule.
“Today marks an important milestone. The process of laying the foundation signifies the commencement of real construction works in a journey that will take us to the promised land of security of electricity supply as we set our sights towards the successful implementation of Vision 2030 which will transform Zimbabwe into an upper middle class economy,” said Dr Gumbo.
He said the expansion project is a key economic enabler as it would positively impact on the economy through the employment of in excess of 3 000 people and enhance skills transfer.
Already, 450 people from around Hwange have been employed.
Dr Gumbo said the project will reduce electricity imports and save foreign currency.
Yesterday workmen poured the first load of concrete for the plant footing to mark the start of construction work, with 38 percent of work set to be completed by year end.
Eight percent of the initial work has been done and the contractor targets to complete the other 30 percent by December.
Excavation work has been done while conceptual designs for the power plant, substation and transmission lines have been finalised.
President Mnangagwa did ground-breaking for the project in June last year.
Other works to be done this year include clearing the transmission line and completing the boiler steel structure, while transmission line conductors will also be delivered.
Upon completion in 2022, the project will increase power generation from the current 600MW to 1200MW. The power station has a capacity of 900MW but is currently generating 600MW.
To enable transmission of additional power from the new plant, there will be need for construction of new powerlines from Hwange to Insukamini and Sherwood for stability as currently power is transmitted using 3x330Kv powerlines.
The $1,488 billion project is being funded by China Exim Bank, Sinohydro and Government through ZPC.
Sinohydro country representative Mr Wu Yifeng said existing units would also be refurbished.