THE decision by Copperbelt Energy Corporation(CEC) to restrict supply of electricity to Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has put the mine’s Nchanga Concentrator out of operation resulting in a loss of US$3.3 million since Saturday, says manager public relations and communication Shapi Shachinda.
Mr Shachinda said KCM was forced to shut down the concentrator following CEC’s unilateral decision to restrict power supply to the mining company.
“Shutting down the concentrator has in turn affected production at our Tailings Leach Plant (TLP) which depends on primary material from the concentrator,” said Mr Shachinda.
CEC decided to restrict power supply to KCM because the mining company reportedly owes the power company a staggering US$ 44 million.
He said subsequently KCM has lost about 482 metric tonnes of copper production from the concentrator worth about US$3.3 million since last Saturday..
“KCM is and has been committed to finding a lasting solution to the dispute with CEC and it is disappointing that CEC has taken such production impacting action,” said Mr Shachinda.
Mr Shachinda explained that the restriction by CEC had greatly impaired KCM’s production and profitability which compromised the safety of the miners and could have implications for job security if prolonged.
The Nchanga Concentrator which has annual capacity of nine million metric tonnes was the larger of the two concentrators that KCM operated. The other one is the Konkola concentrator.
But in restricting power supply to KCM, corporate communications manager for CEC Chama Nsabila-Kalima said the mining company had refused to make payments for the electricity consumed between April 2014 to date and has accumulated power bills worth about US$44 million.
Ms Kalima the Power Supply Agreement (PSA) between the two firms provided for restriction of electricity supply, which entailed a reduction of electricity of an agreed minimum limited, ensuring continued availability of power for essential operations such as pumping of water to prevent flooding of the mine, ventilation and operation of medical facilities.
She explained that the restriction was effected if payment for electricity consumed continued to remain outstanding beyond a specified period.
“CEC wishes to advise that it has commenced restriction of electricity supply to Konkola Copper Mines Plc (KCM) in accordance with the provisions set out in the Power Supply Agreement for non-payment of outstanding invoices,” she said.