LUSAKA Feb 26 Zambia's sole power distributor
to the copper mines has cut supply by 15 percent to match lower
demand from the mines as metals prices fall, a company official
said on Thursday.
Hanson Sindowe, executive chairman of the Copperbelt Energy
Company (CEC) CEC.LZ also said power supply to the mines was
expected to fall further as mines suspended projects.
"We expect this year to be a very difficult year 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 journalists.
"We have a 15 percent reduction in (power) supply," he said.
Luanshya Copper Mines (LCM), which operated the Baluba
copper mine and cobalt producer Chambishi Metals Plc and planned
to develop the $354 million Mulyashi mine project, has suspended
output at its units as a result of the global financial crisis.
CEC's also reported on Thursday its annual revenue rose 35
percent to $177.5 million in 2008 from $131.7 million the
Sindowe said CEC had been granted a concession by the
government to build a 34 megawatts power station at an estimated
cost of $80 million in partnership with Tata Africa Holdings
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
"In the long term, the company's customer demand is expected
to increase, leading to increased turnover," Sindowe said.
Sindowe said CEC and Glencore International AG [GLEN.UL]
would launch a joint bid to develop the Kafue Gorge lower
project, which the government estimates will cost around $1.5
billion to generate up to 750 megawatts, the bulk of which would
be supplied to the Zambia copper industry.
Sindowe said a project to build transmission power lines to
the Konkola Deep Copper Mine (KDMP), a unit of Konkola Copper
Mines (KCM), which is majority owned by London-listed Vedanta
Resources Plc (VED.L), was underway. The KDMP will produce
150,000 tonnes copper per year starting from 2010.
(Editing by Sue Thomas)