Zambia’s biggest copper mine might get the lights turned off
Konkola Copper Mines, already under provisional liquidation, is said to have a $132m outstanding electricity bill
Lusaka — Vedanta Resources’s Zambian unit, which is in provisional liquidation, is fighting to keep the lights on after a power company threatened to reduce supply because of a $132m bill, according to court filings.
Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), Zambia’s biggest single power user, won an interim order from the high court on May 13 preventing Copperbelt Energy (CEC) from curbing its electricity.
KCM disputes the payment CEC is demanding, and says power restrictions would cause irreparable damage to its facilities, according to an affidavit from the mining company.
The case is the latest in a series of financial troubles at KCM, which the government placed under provisional liquidation a year ago, through a state-owned minority shareholder. It’s also not the first time that CEC has moved to restrict supplies because of non-payment; there was a similar dispute in 2014.
“KCM’s non-payment for power consumed has resulted in liquidity challenges for the CEC business and exposed the company to extensive liability,” it said in response to e-mailed questions.
At the time of liquidation, KCM owed $47m in unpaid bills, according to the affidavit signed by Mbobe Nyondo, the company’s energy and risk manager. While KCM said it had paid $45m, CEC said it is still owed $132m. The power provider then warned it would restrict supply, relying on a notice from a year ago that has since lapsed, according to Nyondo.
The high court in Kitwe, where KCM is based, will hear the matter on May 26. KCM didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.