Zambia asks mines to cut output

[] — Zambian power utility Zesco has asked mining companies, the largest consumers of electricity, to cut output while it tests a recently rehabilitated power plant, a senior official said on Thursday.

Zesco Ltd. director for generation and transmission Christopher Nthala told Reuters one machine at the 990 megawatt Kafue Gorge, which supplies most of the power to the mining industry, would be shut for checks for 24 hours from Thursday night.

Nthala said this meant the power station’s output would be reduced by 330 megawatts. Zesco would decrease national power output to about 1,300 megawatts from the current installed capacity of 1,630 megawatts.

“Taking into consideration our maximum load demand of 1,500 megawatts … we are going to have a shortfall of 200 megawatts which will result in increased load-shedding,” Nthala said.

“We have written to our large customers like the mines and industries to help us during this period by using power efficiently.”

Nthala said Zambia may have to import power from South Africa to plug the deficit.

“If you look at 200 megawatts, that is a lot of power and only South Africa can provide us with that quantity,” he said.

Neil Croucher, the chief executive officer at Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC), which buys power from Zesco and supplies it to most of the mines, said the company had asked them to cut consumption from Thursday night.

“We have told the mines to cut back on the use of power in a way that will have minimum impact on production,” he told Reuters.