First Quantum Minerals has resumed full capacity at its Kansanshi mine and smelter, as well as its Sentinel project, in the north-western province of Zambia after South African utility Eskom agreed to supply 300MW of power to the country.
The company said its mines are now being consistently provided with 285MW of power, despite electricity concerns in the country.
This allows for normal operations at the Kansanshi complex and for Sentinel to achieve above design capacity throughput going forward.
Eskom’s provision of excess electricity to Zimbabwe, as well as Zambia, and increasing water levels in the Kariba dam have helped stabilise power supplies.
Zambia is in the middle of its annual rainy season, which starts in November and continues through April, and has recharged the catchment areas of the dam. Power generation from Kariba dam helps in meeting the majority of electricity requirements.
Over the past months, the flow rate at all four upstream measuring stations of the dam has recorded an increase.
Power supply in the country is expected to further improve, with 420MW of new in-country capacity addition.
Additional power supply has allowed First Quantum to ramp up production.
Due to power shortages in the region, companies were compelled to cut production.
The company is also assessing various other options to secure power for its operations in the near as well as long term, independently.
Electricity availability in Zambia will be augmented by around 420MW of new in-country capacity, which is expected online in 2016 from projects that are close to completion.
In August 2015, First Quantum reported restoring of full power supply to its Kansanshi operation and Sentinel project by Zesco.
The announcement came after receipt of notice of the declaration of force majeure for the supply of electricity from Zesco to Kansanshi, and also the reduction in electricity supply to both Kansanshi and Sentinel.
First Quantum said that the processes that were previously announced to cut its net debt position by more than $1bn by the end of first quarter of 2016 are also proceeding well.
Image: First Quantum restored full power supply to its Kansanshi operation in August 2015. Photo: courtesy of First Quantum Minerals Ltd.