First Quantum to halt production at Trident mine due to power scarcity

4 August 2015 (Last Updated August 4th, 2015 18:30)

Crippling power shortages in Zambia have forced copper producer First Quantum Minerals to stop production at its Trident mine.

Crippling power shortages in Zambia have forced copper producer First Quantum Minerals to stop production at its Trident mine.

First Quantum's majority-owned subsidiary Kalumbila Minerals (KML) said that the company's latest decision will result in the loss of about 1,500 construction jobs.

Zambian power utility Zesco has cut its power supply following reduction in water levels at its hydro-electric plants due to a drought.

"If power supply shortages in Zambia continue and cannot be supplemented by imported power, KML will likely need to take further actions to secure viability."

The Trident project is being developed by KML, and consists of the Sentinel copper mine and Enterprise nickel mine, as well as addition to associated infrastructure at Kalumbila in north-western Zambia.

Reuters quoted KML saying in a statement: "If power supply shortages in Zambia continue and cannot be supplemented by imported power, KML will likely need to take further actions to secure viability."

Copperbelt Energy, which buys electricity from Zesco and sells it to mining companies told them that it would slash power supplies to mines by 30% starting Friday.

However, this was delayed and the company has yet to reach an agreement with the companies on this.

Last week, First Quantum closed its Sentinel copper processing plant following reduction in electricity supplies to its operations by 24%, the news agency said.