Mine Watch (First Quantum Minerals)

From Zambian Economist Thu Feb 7 2013, 06:31:00

First Quantum Minerals Limited (FQM) will this year start constructing a US$230m (KR1.22bn) power line from Lusaka to Solwezi for its latest mine, Sentinel at Kalumbila. The 330 kilovolts transmission line would cover a distance of about 400 kilometres. The power line would tap power from the Tata / ZESCO owned 120 megawatts Itezhi-tezhi hydro-power station currently under construction. FQM is negotiating with ZESCO to agree construction arrangements.

FQM is investing more than $2 billion in Sentinel Mine which will be Africa's biggest copper mine with a capacity to produce more than 500, 000 tonnes of copper concentrates per year. The mine will be fully operational in the later part of 2014. It says the $250m investment in the power will be easily recovered under five years.

The investment will effectively make Sentinel and Kulumbila self sufficient. Good for them, they won't have to worry about the hapless ZESCO. It's a fascinating arrangement because ZESCO will more or less be contracted to do the grid but ownership of transmission will rest with FQM. Perhaps liberalisation is happening!

The Itezhi-tezhi power project involves the development, construction, operation, and maintenance of a 120 MW base-load hydro power plant at the Itezhi-tezhi dam on the Kafue River. The project is being developed under a 25-year concession by ITPC, a special purpose joint venture formed in 2007 to construct, own and manage the project. ITPC is owned 50% by ZESCO and 50% by Tata Africa Holdings Ltd. (TAHL), which signed a memorandum of understanding in 2006 to develop the project. At the end of the concession period, the power station will revert to the GRZ. All ITPC power will be sold to ZESCO under a long term take-or-pay Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). ZESCO will buy power from ITPC and transmit it through the new transmission line to the national grid. As will FQM if they build the transmission line.

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