Michael Tarney,
Managing Director
for Corporate
Development, CE
8 February 2010 – The Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) plans to boost electricity supply to meet demand from mines, which is seen rising to 1,000 megawatts within five years from 700-800 MW, according to CEC’s Managing Director for Corporate Development, Michael Tarney.

Tarney said the firm was in talks with Zimbabwe’s power utility ZESA to upgrade and expand power transmission for electricity exports, mainly to Botswana.

CEC planned to construct some new power stations in partnership with Chinese and U.S. power firms and one of such projects was the proposed 300 MW Mumbotuta project in northern Zambia, which would likely cost about $1 billion.

"We are keeping contact with some large hydro developers from the U.S. and China. It is a project that we would like to develop through a consortium," Tarney told media in Cape Town on the sidelines of a mining conference.

He said the CEC and SNEL of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were partnering in a project to boost power supply by upgrading an interconnector between Zambia and the Congo.

"There is already an interconnector which is a single circuit and we are putting up two more circuits," Tarney said.

He said a feasibility study had been completed for a 33 MW Kabompo Gorge project, which was estimated to cost $300 million with part of the funds likely to come from the Millennium Challenge Corporation of the United States.

He said CEC was also in talks with some foreign investors to launch a joint tender to develop the 600 MW Kafue Gorge Lower project, which is estimated to cost $1.8 billion.

Tarney said a rally in copper prices had caused the mines to raise their investments with new projects likely to be developed in Zambia, Africa’s largest copper producer.

"We need to accelerate these power projects so that they can be closed, otherwise there will be no power for some of these projects," Tarney said.

He said CEC was also developing an optic fibre network on its transmission lines to provide internet connections to Zambian towns and Katanga province of the DRC and that commercial banks in Zambia had started to use the network.

Some of the foreign mining companies operating in Zambia include Canada’s First Quantum Minerals, London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, Equinox Minerals and Glencore International AG of Switzerland.