By Chris Mfula
LUSAKA, July 7 (Reuters) - Zambia, Africa’s No.2 copper producer, plans to cut power supplies to mines by up to 30 percent as early as next week, after water levels at its hydro-electric projects dropped due to drought, industry sources said on Tuesday.
The plan, still under discussion with the industry, will see state-run power company Zesco Ltd limit the amount of power it supplies to its customers, including mining companies, due to a power deficit of 560 MW.
“Zesco said during the meeting that by October this year Zambia would face a very serious power crisis if it spared the mines,” said one source, who did not want to be named.
“Mining companies said cutting their power supply would mean closing down some units and laying off some workers.”
Jackson Sikamo, president of the Chamber of Mines of Zambia, said he did not attend last week’s meeting and had not been briefed about its deliberations.
Another source said the meeting, which included officials from Zambia’s energy regulator, asked mining companies to devise their own power reduction plan.
“Mining companies were asked to come up with what they think is practical and they will present the proposal this week,” the second source said. Individual mining companies were not immediately available for comment.
Foreign mining companies in Zambia include Glencore , Barrick Gold Corp, Vedanta Resources and First Quantum Minerals. (Editing by Ed Stoddard)