TSX-listed First Quantum Minerals’ on Tuesday reported that its Zambian copper operations, which include the Kansanshi mine, smelter and the Sentinel project, are being consistently provided a total of approximately 285MW.

This power supply allows for normal operations at the Kansanshi mine and smelter complex and for Sentinel to achieve above nameplate capacity throughput for periods.

Rainy season dam replenishment

Zambia is in the midst of its annual rainy season which generally starts in November and runs through April. This means that the catchment area that feeds the Kariba dam, from which the majority of the country’s electricity is generated, is being recharged.

The river flow at all four upstream measuring stations above Kariba dam have all been showing significant increases in flow rates over the past month. With water from the catchment area typically taking a few months to make its way into the Kariba dam, the dam recharge is expected to occur from January to June.

New power projects

In addition to this annual replenishment, electricity availability will be increased by about 420MW of new in-country capacity is expected to come online during the current year from projects nearing completion.

This includes 300MW of new thermal power and 120MW of new hydro power.

Currently, the state-run power company is importing power from neighbouring countries, and has announced additional power imports of up to 300MW from another utility in the region, and a further 200MW from an independent power producer.

Despite the new power projects and importation of power, First Quantum is also evaluating a number of options to independently secure power for its operations both in the near and long term.

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