26 July 2013 - Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) which is owned by India based Vedanta Resources says it is exploring for coal and may build a power plant in Zambia to reduce electricity costs.

KCM, which started exploration at the prospect in the Sinazongwe district of Zambia’s Southern province in 2013 could build a power station to generate up to 300 MW, provided it finds enough coal with the necessary energy levels, the company’s strategy and business development director Brad Gnanasivam told Bloomberg.

“It’s an option that we are trying to develop for ourselves so that we’re not stranded. If power rates continue going where they are going, at some point it will become very unsustainable, especially at the kind of power that we consume.”

KCM is the biggest power consumer in Zambia, using as much as 250 MW, or about 13% of the country’s total generation capacity. Zesco, Zambia’s state-owned power producer, applied for a 26% average price increase in 2012, and the regulator is yet to decide on the request.

KCM would want to have its own power station producing by 2020, when an electricity supply contract with Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) expires, Gnanasivam says.

Maamba Collieries, a unit of Nava Bharat Singapore Pte, is building a 300 MW coal power plant in Sinazongwe district, while EMCO Energy Zambia plans to build a thermal power plant twice that size in the same area.

Power prices in Zambia may need to double by 2015 to make it viable to build new generation capacity and end a supply shortage, CEC Energy said in 2012.