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Zambia cuts power supply to mines

Power – is being
cut by 15% to
Zambian mines
Lusaka, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 27 February 2009 – Zambia’s sole power distributor to the country’s copper mines has cut its supply by 15% to match lower demand from the mines as metals prices fall.

Announcing this here, Copperbelt Energy Company executive chairman Hanson Sindowe, said power supply to the mines was expected to fall further as mines suspended projects in the future.

“We expect this year to be very difficult for a number of our customers. The demand from the company’s customers is expected to decrease in the short term as some have reduced mining operations," Sindowe told newsmen.

Luanshya Copper Mines (LCM) – which operated the Baluba copper mine and cobalt producer Chambishi Metals Plc, and had planned to develop the US$354 million (R3.6 billion) Mulyashi mine project – has suspended output at its units as a result of the global financial crisis.

CEC also reported that its annual revenue had risen 35% to US$177.5 million (R1.8 billion) in 2008 from US$131.7 million (R1.3 billion) the previous year.

Sindowe said CEC had been granted a concession by the government to build a 34 megawatts power station at an estimated cost of US$$80 million (R800 million) in partnership with Tata Africa Holdings Ltd. It added that construction of a 220 kv power supply line to link Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo would start this year.

Despite lower demand for electricity from mines, Sindowe said the CEC still planned a feasibility study for a new hydro power project. “In the long term, the company’s customer demand is expected to increase, leading to increased turnover,” Sindowe said.

He added that CEC and Glencore International] would launch a joint bid to develop the Kafue Gorge lower project, which the government estimated would cost around US$1.5 billion (R15 billion) to generate up to 750 megawatts, the bulk of which would be supplied to the Zambian copper industry.