LUSAKA, July 31 (Reuters) - Zambia’s power supplier Copperbelt Energy Corp. (CEC) has delayed a plan to reduce electricity to mines after mining firms warned they would have to close processing plants and shed jobs, industry sources said on Friday.
Zesco Ltd., the main power generating firm in Africa’s No. 2 copper producer, is limiting supplies after water levels at its hydro-electric plants fell due to drought.
CEC buys electricity from Zesco in bulk and sells it to mining companies including the local units of Vedanta Resources , Glencore and Vale.
On Thursday, CEC told mining firms it would reduce power supply by 30 percent to mines from Friday.
“Power supply has not been reduced,” an industry source said. “Mining companies yesterday made a very serious presentation to the government, Zesco and CEC that reducing supply as planned would lead to closures of processing plant and job cuts.”
CEC officials were not immediately available to comment.
Canada’s First Quantum Minerals on Monday shut its Sentinel copper processing plant after Zesco reduced electricity supply to its operations by 24 percent.
Chief executives of mining companies were due to meet on Friday to plan how their firms would reduce their own electricity demand, another industry source said.
“The idea is to put in place a power rationing plan that will not seriously disrupt operations and undermine safety,” the source said. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by James Macharia)