Caledonia will partner with Voltalia on an initial design phase, which will be followed by an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract. Commissioning for the plant is targeted for the last quarter of 2021.
The solar project for Blanket, which is expected to provide approximately 27% of the mine's total electricity demand, aims at reducing the company's dependence on the unreliable national grid.
The bulk of grid power in Zimbabwe is generated by the Kariba hydropower plant on the Zambezi and by a coal-fired power station at Hwange. However, low water levels in the Zambezi have substantially reduced the generating capacity at Kariba and maintenance issues have also reduced the power generated at Hwange.
"The project is primarily intended to protect the Blanket mine from any further deterioration in the electricity supply situation," said Caledonia in its statement.
"Further deterioration in the quality of grid power would necessitate increased use of diesel generators, which are substantially more expensive than grid power. The [solar] plant will also reduce Blanket's environmental footprint."
In September, Caledonia raised US$13 million for the project through the sale of 597,963 shares at market price to US financial services company Cantor Fitzgerald & Co.
Voltalia has previously delivered renewable energy projects in Burundi, Malawi and South Africa, including the development, construction, operation and maintenance of solar power plants, Caledonia added.