Lusaka, Zambia — 17 July 2013 – Konkola Copper Mines plc (KCM) “’ the Zambian unit of London-based Vedanta Resources plc “’ has revealed that it is exploring for coal and may build a power plant in the country to reduce electricity costs.

KCM, which started exploration at the prospect in the Sinazongwe district of Zambia’s southern Province this year, may build a power station to generate as much as 300MW, provided it finds enough coal with the necessary energy levels, Bloomberg News quotes strategy and business development director Brad Gnanasivam as saying.

“It’s an option that we are trying to develop for ourselves so that we’re not stranded,” he said in an interview here. “If power rates continue going where they are going, at some point it will become very unsustainable, especially at the kind of power that we consume.”

Konkola Copper Mines is the biggest power consumer in Zambia, using as much as 250MW, or about 13% of the country’s total generation capacity. Zesco Limited, Zambia’s state-owned power producer, applied for a 26% average price increase last year, and the regulator is yet to decide on the request. KCM halted plans to fire 2,000 workers in June in favour of reducing production costs. One megawatt is enough to power about 500 to 1,000 U.S. homes.

KCM would want to have its own power station producing by 2020, when an electricity supply contract with Copperbelt Energy Corporation expires, Gnanasivam said. Maamba Collieries, a unit of Nava Bharat Singapore Pte Limited, is building a 300-MW coal power plant in Sinazongwe district, while EMCO Energy Zambia plans to build a thermal power plant twice that size in the same area.

Power prices in Zambia may need to double by 2015 to make it viable to build new generation capacity and end a supply shortage, CEC Energy said last year.

Source: Bloomberg News. For more information, click here.