August 13, 2017 / 9:11 AM / in 5 days

Zambia's CEC confirms reduced power supply to Glencore's copper miner

A miner sweeps the floor underground at the Chibuluma copper mine in the Zambian copperbelt region, January 17, 2015.Rogan Ward

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Copperbelt Energy Corp (CEC), Zambia's main supplier of power for its mines, confirmed on Sunday that it has restricted the amount of electricity it supplies to Glencore unit Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) because of a dispute over tariffs.

Mopani said on Saturday that it has suspended operations in certain areas after CEC restricted power supply to its mines in both Kitwe and Mufulira.

The government in April proposed introducing a flat tariff of 9.30 U.S. cents/kilowatt hour (kWh) backdated to January for mining companies, instead of individually negotiated rates that have averaged 6 U.S. cents/kWh, but mining companies opposed the plan.

"To date, MCM has rejected the industry-wide tariff increment and sought to continue to pay for the electricity they consume at the old tariff," CEC spokeswoman Chama Nsabika-Kalima said.

Under the circumstances, CEC was left with no option but to restrict power supply to MCM to a level commensurate with the monthly payments that MCM continues to make to CEC, she said.

Mopani owns the Mufulira underground shaft, the Nkana underground shaft, South Ore Body shaft and the Mindola shaft in Kitwe.

Other mining companies in Zambia, Africa's second-biggest copper producer, include First Quantum Minerals, Brazil's Vale and London-listed Vedanta Resources.

Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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