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Zambian Copper Mines Face 30% Cut in Power Supply From Friday

Zambia’s biggest provider of power to mining companies, Copperbelt Energy Corp., will cut supplies to operators by 30 percent starting midnight Thursday, the country’s Chamber of Mines said.

It’s too early to assess the impact of the cuts on copper mining in Africa’s second-largest producer of the metal, Jackson Sikamo, president of the lobby group, said in an interview in Lusaka, the capital. The local units of Glencore Plc and Vedanta Plc are among those served by Copperbelt Energy.

Zambia is facing a 560 megawatt electricity shortage after low rainfall cut hydropower generation, the source of more than 90 percent of its power supplies. Delays to new projects including the 300 megawatt Maamba Collieries coal-fired plant have added to the shortfall. The country’s normal generation capacity is about 2,300 megawatts.

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. said Thursday it closed the Kalumbila copper processing plant, which started production at the end of last year, to instead use the power at its Kansanshi operation, Africa’s biggest copper mine. Zesco Ltd., the state-owned power producer, cut supplies to First Quantum by about 24 percent, the mining company said Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Copperbelt Energy wasn’t immediately able to comment when contacted on her mobile phone.

Zesco asked Copperbelt Energy last week to reduce its power usage, Bestty Phiri, a spokesman for the state utility, said by mobile phone Thursday. He couldn’t confirm the size of the cut requested and wouldn’t comment on the cuts by Copperbelt Energy.


Source – Bloomberg Business