28 November 2008 – Up to 540MW of power meant for the Zambian copper mines has been cut, after Zesco had to ration power following repairs on one of the major transmission lines in the country.

transmission_linesAccording to Copperbelt Energy Company (CEC), the repairs are expected to be completed by the second week of December, but until then, reduce supplies will remain in force. Handon Sindowe, CEC chairman says that Zambia intends to upgrade the transmission lines in order to accomodate more power from the DRC.

CEC, which purchases power from Zesco and distributes it to the mines in the Copperbelt region of Zambia.

"We have reduced by 16 percent the amount of power to the mines and that is quite a lot, especially at a time when demand is rising. We have normally been supplying the mines with 540 megawatts," Sindowe said.

An official at the energy ministry said the mines had to reduce energy consumption and switch off non-essential equipment to ease the power shortage.

"This will surely have a negative effect on copper production this year," the official, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

CEC has partnered with SNEL of the DRC to upgrade an existing transmisson line, more than doubling its capacity from 210MW to 500MW.

"The line will cover about 130 kilometres and CEC will spend $15 million to construct (the extension line) on the Zambian side, while Snel will do the same inside the Democratic Republic of Congo," Sindowe said.