Zambia Copper Miners to Cut Power Use 15% to Ease Shortage – by Matthew Hill (Bloomberg News – August 4, 2015)

Zambian mining companies agreed to reduce their electricity consumption by as much as 15 percent to help ease a power shortage in Africa’s second-biggest copper producer.

The local units of Glencore Plc, Vedanta Resources Plc and other operators reached the agreement with Mines Minister Christopher Yaluma and electricity supplier Copperbelt Energy Corp. at a meeting on Tuesday, according to the Chamber of Mines.

Power cuts already enforced at projects run by First Quantum Minerals Ltd. and Barrick Gold Corp. will be reversed on Wednesday, said Jackson Sikamo, the president of the chamber.

“The discussion was very open and the minister acknowledged the effort the mining companies have made,” he said by phone on Tuesday from Kitwe, about 280 kilometers (174 miles) north of Lusaka, the capital. The reductions of 10 percent to 15 percent will “definitely affect production,” though it’s too early to tell by how much, Sikamo said.

First Quantum announced this week it would cut 1,480 jobs at a Zambian copper mine because the power limits had curbed its output. The company may reverse that plan now that an agreement has been reached, Sikamo said.

Low water levels have crimped hydroelectric supplies in the southern African nation and the power shortages will probably last until April, China Nonferrous Mining Corp., which has operations in the country, said in a statement last month.

Job Cuts

Copperbelt Energy, which provides electricity to most mining companies, had planned on reducing supplies by about 30 percent from July 31. It abandoned that proposal after the government stepped in, citing the potential for job cuts.

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