11 September 2013 – A joint venture between Old Stone Investments of Zimbabwe and Shandong Taishan Sunlight, which has formed a group called China Africa Sunlight Energy, plans to invest as much as US$2.1 billion to develop coal mines and build a 2,100 MW coal fired power station in Zimbabwe.

According to a Bloomberg report China Africa Sunlight Energy will start with capacity to produce 300 MW by mid-2015 and raise this to 600 MW by the end of that year. The company has spent US$20 million on exploration, and was granted rights to look for coal and coal-bed methane in the area in October 2012.

The southern African nation, which has the world’s biggest known reserves of platinum after neighbouring South Africa, has capacity to produce 1,500 MW, well short of peak demand of 2,100 MW. The country has coal resources of 10 billion to 15 billion tonnes, according to government estimates.

China Africa Sunlight Energy plans to sell some of its electricity to Zesa, the state-owned power-generation company. Its coal exploration area, in Gwayi in the western Matabeleland region, has four billion tonnes of resources and China Africa Sunlight Energy is conducting studies to measure how much gas is available, with the results to be known in three months.

“If they discover gas, the way we think they are going to, we want to export the gas overseas to India” in partnership with Discovery Investments, general manager Charles Mugari says.

Depending on the outcome of the gas study, the company wants to start a program piloting methane gas for domestic gas in Hwange, also in Matabeleland, and extend this to Bulawayo, the second-biggest city, if successful, he says. China Africa Sunlight Energy is looking at the possibility of pumping gas to the port city of Beira in neighbouring Mozambique, using an idle pipeline that the National Oil Co. of Zimbabwe once used to bring fuel into the country, according to Mugari.