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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

KCM Mine floods, Miners trapped, Mines Minister fumes

Economy KCM Mine floods, Miners trapped, Mines Minister fumes

KCM
KCM

KONKOLA Copper Mines (KCM) has suspended operations at its Nchanga underground mine after miners were trapped in a cage when the mine flooded due to the restriction of power supply by Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC).

KCM manager for public relations and communications Shapi Shacinda said yesterday that the Nchanga underground mine was flooded following a further alleged unilateral decision by CEC to step down power supply to a major transformer supplying electricity to the mine.

“The incident put at risk the lives of miners who were working at the bottom of a cage. This occurred on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 around 23:40 hours. When KCM technicians noticed instability and trip-outs of a power transformer, investigations revealed that CEC had further restricted power supply, without notifying KCM, beyond the earlier restriction on Saturday, September 20, 2014, which had prompted the suspension of operations at the Nchanga concentrator,” Mr Shacinda said

He said CEC allegedly “recklessly” stepped down its transformers supplying power to Nchanga underground mine from 150 percent overload settings to 50 percent.

Mr Shacinda alleged that this is in total disregard of the provisions of the Power Supply Agreement (PSA), which requires both parties to be present when restricting supply to avoid creating safety hazards to employees and flooding risk of the mine.

“KCM officials made initial efforts and contacted CEC technicians just after the incident occurred to ask them to resume normal supply to the Nchanga underground mine but the CEC technicians refused to comply,” Mr Shacinda said.

He said supply was only normalised following the intervention of the CEC managing director, who had to be contacted by a senior KCM executive and informed of the flooding and risk to miners trapped underground.

Mr Shacinda said the cage could not be operated to take the miners up due to the restricted power.

“The miners were later rescued and we are pleased to advise that they are in good health. Resulting from the CEC unilateral power restriction and the flooding this has caused, KCM has suspended mining operations at the Nchanga underground and has incurred massive financial losses,” Mr Shacinda said.

He said it will now take weeks to de-water the flooded areas and more time to stabilise and resume normal operations.

Meanwhile, Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma says Government will no longer tolerate the stand-off between CEC and KCM over a commercial dispute because it is tantamount to economic sabotage.

Mr Yaluma said in Lusaka yesterday that Government does not want the restriction of power supply to KCM to result in job losses and to negatively impact on the national economy.
“We think there is need for consideration on the part of CEC because this is a serious economic disruption and Government is very much concerned about the turn of events at KCM.

“We cannot continue tolerating the way events are unfolding. Right now [Wednesday], I am trying to talk to CEC officials. I cannot get hold of Mr Hanson Sindowe [CEC board chairman] because he is out of the country, so I am trying to get hold of the managing director Owen Silavwe to see how this matter can be resolved amicably since it is now tantamount to economic sabotage,” he said.

Early this year, CEC, which supplies power to the mines on the Copperbelt, increased electricity tariffs which KCM disputed and the matter was taken for arbitration.

But last week, the Lusaka High Court ruled in favour of CEC, which is owed about US$44 million by KCM.

Consequently, CEC restricted power supply to KCM and restricted service to critical areas like underground ventilation, pumps and medical facilities.

This development forced KCM to shut down its Nchanga concentrator on Saturday which has affected production at its Tailings Leach Plant, resulting in loss of 482 metric tonnes of copper production worth about US$3.3 million.

28 COMMENTS

    • Could not agree with you more. KCM should pay up and stop risking the lives of miners. They cannot pass the buck to CEC and absolve themselves of their responsibility to ensure sound working conditions for their workers, which include paying attention to addressing the issues that can have deadly effects on the lives of their employees – such as paying for services rendered in order to secure continued operations of the mines. Please pay up.

    • Ba pokeni mine ba KCM. Why is it always them with issues? They claim they make a lot of money so why not pay up. But kuli poor management ku KCM ayi? Mwa kangiwa mwandi..

  1. Mr Yaluma why fume? Is CEC getting free electricity from ZESCO? Wasnt KCM chairman boasting he makes 500m usd per year? Why cant he/kcm pay 44m usd? Hasn’t the court ruled in favour of CEC?

  2. Why is KCM not respecting the courts ruling? And why is the Mines Minister fuming? It doesn’t mean that if you are the mines minister you have to side with mines in every commercial dispute. He has to also note that KCM’s delayed payments to CEC may also result in job losses.

  3. Much as this is economic sabotage it is also annoying to see KCM failing to pay for services but busy boasting in India that they cheated the MMD government, bought the mine for a song and are making millions of dollars.

  4. By the time KCM are done with this country, there will only be a shell left behind. They dont respect our local courts, they dont respect our laws. They like rushing to the politicians for protection. Its high time kcm realised that all companies have obligations. If they dont pay cec, it becomes a chain reaction. CEC will not pay zesco and zra. In turn Grz will not have enough money for projects. So kcm just pay.

    At least kcm should pay that portion of the bill that is not in dispute, which is based on the old tarifffs. The rest can be paid at a later date when all tariff issues have been resolved. The damage that kcm is inflicting on the Zambian economy will be enormous.

  5. KCM is playing the sympathy card to make it look as if CEC is being unreasonable and the minister falls for it!
    The issue is simple how do you expect CEC to pay its suppliers?
    In fact they should have stopped supplying power to the dawn mine ages ago.

  6. We only hear when they incur losses. Apart from the bragging on the Internet nothing else shows for all the profits when all is equal.

  7. Mr Yaluma, do not behave as though you are not ‘Honourable’. Vendeta Mineral Resources bought KCM at a song and now they want to continue enjoying cheap electricity from CEC when other mining houses are paying at high rates? Why doesn’t CEC have disputes with the rest of mining companies in Zambia? KCM is just looking for excuse to exit from Zambia. And you are fuming!! I think you have been compromised. Please grow up for once.

  8. …but they knew they had problems with CEC but they still sent the miners down there. But these KCM but they are daring! And poor Yaluma is biting the bait! Yaba!

  9. Mr Yaluma is right, this is indeed Economic sabotage, where he is wrong is that its the fault of CEC. This is Economic Sabotage by KCM. They know power is being restricted but they put miners lives at risk, KCM senior Management need to act mature and scale back operations until they have cleared the bill. Yaluma you will follow KCM to india.

  10. Ba Yaluma has got it wrong way round. So, according to him the courts of law are wrong too?. Its either he has very questionable capacity as a minister of Mines, or he has been compromised, or indeed both.

  11. I THINK KCM IS TRYING TO SEEK GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION BY DELIBERATLY AND STRATEGICALLY FLOODING THE MINE SO THAT THE GOVERNMENT SYMPATHISES WITH THEM OVER THE ALLERGED DISPUTE WITH CEC. BUT THE TWO ELEPHANTS FIGHTING SHOULD NOT ALLOW ENOCENT LIVES TO BE LOST.

    • ZESCO will do load shedding and then you would really see lives lost at the mines. KCM put those miners lives at risk, they did this to force government intervention and the Minister is dancing to their tune. Its a disgrace.

  12. KCM putting Zambians at ransom.

    They have got all the money they wanted and now want to destroy the mine and leave. Remember the GLENCO stories

  13. NOT LONG AGO THE OWNER OF KCM WAS BOOSTING OF REAPING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM THAT INVESTMENT AND HE CANNOT PAY ELECTRICITY BILLS. CEC KEEP THE PRESSURE ON. THEY MUST PAY LIKE ANY OTHER CONSUMER OF POWER.

  14. The provision of power to the mines has always been a highly specialised undertaking. Even in the days of zccm, there was power division for this purpose. So cec’s responsibilities cannot be said to be that of a middle man. They aggregate power from different sources such as zesco, snell in Congo and sometimes the south, and send it to the mines. They have been doing this for years, and hence gained that necessary skill.

    Zesco on the other hand has been supplying power to the general populace, who do not need any specilisation. So there you have it, now you know a bit about what cec does.

    Did someone mention nationalisation? Is our policy? Nope!

Comments are closed.

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