(Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe’s ferrochrome miners, the nation’s biggest electricity consumers, have agreed to build their own power plants over the next two years as the government seeks to balance energy demand.

Under the agreement, ferrochrome producers will in the meantime pay electricity tariffs that are little more than half the rate charged to other mining companies, according to state power utility Zesa Holdings Ltd.

The deal will ensure the long-term sustainability of the energy-intensive sector, according to John Musekiwa, chief executive officer of Sinosteel’s Zimbabwe unit, the country’s biggest ferrochrome miner. The company known as Zimasco is targeting power output of 300 megawatts by 2026, he said.

“Our government’s strategy to move toward green energy solutions in the near term is well understood and the timelines agreed to with regards the construction of the power plants reflects that,” Musekiwa wrote in response to questions from Bloomberg News.

Zimbabwe’s energy ministry expects power demand to surge to 3,000 megawatts by 2026, with the bulk of the electricity being consumed by mining companies. The country currently generates about 1,400 to 1,500 megawatts of power, with any shortfall plugged by imports from neighboring countries.

Demand from the mining industry is expected to climb to more than 500 megawatts this year, from 450 megawatts in 2023, on the back of expansion projects and new entrants, according to the Chamber of Mines

--With assistance from Desmond Kumbuka.

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