THE Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc successfully managed to supply emergency power to mining companies that were adversely impacted during Zesco Limited’s brief power cut on August 8, says the Zambia Chamber of Mines.
In a statement, Zambia Chamber of Mines president Godwin Beene hailed CEC’s efforts at supplying standby electricity for the negatively affected mining houses on the Copperbelt, whose operations were impacted during Zesco’s abrupt power cut last Sunday.
He commended CEC for continuing to play a positive role in ensuring the long-term commercial viability of mining companies despite the prolonged uncertainty, which has rocked the electricity sub-sector since last year.
The Kitwe-based power utility has grappled with two belligerent statutory instruments issued by former energy minister Matthew Nkhuwa in a space of one year, which declared its infrastructure as “common carrier,” putting Zesco at unfair advantage.
“For the mining operations in the Copperbelt Province, the standby arrangements of our member Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) successfully kicked in. Emergency back-up supply was extended to all their client mine operators on the CEC network to preserve life, production, assets and infrastructure in the national interest. This is exactly as per the original commercial structure and dedicated network design that has delivered reliability for over 50 years,” Dr Beene said. “The Chamber membership looks forward to the resolution of the uncertain and tense status quo in the electricity sector in general, and around CEC in particular. Doing so swiftly will bolster confidence and reduce the perception of risk. The resulting improved energy investment environment will enable strategic back-up base load supply investments such as run of river hydro in the northern watershed region of the country along the Luapula River or a hydro-electric dam at Kabompo to be made. These can serve as both additional generation capacity and back up supply for the North-Western Province open pit mines that are too large for on-site stand-by diesel generator solutions.”
And Dr Beene said the power outage adversely impacted the day’s mining operations in the midst of the prevailing copper bull market.
He explained that although employees across the Chamber membership completed shifts without incident of injury or worse, open pit production in the North-Western Province was adversely affected.
Dr Beene said Chamber member operations there have since returned to normal.