Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, has completed the installation of three diesel generators with a 24 megawatts (MW) capacity at its flagship Konkola Deep Mining Project (KDMP) to address emergency power situations.
The three generators have been installed by Finland’s Wartsila, a company specialising in manufacturing and installing diesel generator sets of varying capacities all over the globe. Each has a capacity of 8MW.
The generators, to be commissioned this month, will provide back-up power in case of failure of power supply from the national grid. KCM, like other mining companies, is currently supplied with power by the Copperbelt Energy Company (CEC), which purchases the electricity from state power utility, Zesco Ltd., under the bulk-power supply arrangement.
This 24-MW new capacity, coupled with existing 20MW gas turbine capacity at Konkola and 10MW gas turbine capacity at Luano, which both belong to the CEC, is expected to provide enough power to operate pumps that are used to drain uncontrolled water from the KDMP in case of total power failure from the grid.
The Konkola mine located in Chililabombwe town, 455 kilometres north of the capital Lusaka, is one of the wettest mines in the world, with around 350,000 cubic metres of water drawn everyday from its underground operations. KCM infuses this water into the Kafue River, one of Zambia’s major and longest rivers, and it helps to keep the levels of the Kafue high during the dry season when the need for water is even higher.
The KDMP is expected to help raise total KCM copper production to more than 400,000 tonnes in the next few years. KCM has invested more than $2 billion in new projects, expansions and upgrades of its assets in the last six years in efforts aimed at raising production and extending mine life.
Konkola Copper Mines is an integrated copper producer, which operates the Nchanga mine, comprising an underground mine and open pits, the Nchanga Smelter, Konkola Mine, Nkana Refinery on the Copperbelt province and the Nampundwe pyrite mine, which is located near the capital city, Lusaka. KCM is also Zambia’s largest private sector employer with more than 20,000 permanent and contractor employees.