Plans to build a new US$230 million power line to a major copper mine in Zambia are just waiting for a Government rubber stamp.
First Quantum Minerals Limited (FQML), which currently operates four mines and is developing projects worldwide, is behind the project to bring power to its new mine Sentinel in Solewezi.
The company wants to invest more than $2 billion in Sentinel making it Africa’s biggest copper mine with a capacity to produce 500,000 tonnes of copper concentrates a year.
It has agreed terms with utility Zesco for the construction of a power transmission from Lusaka West in Lusaka to Solwezi and is now waiting for the go-ahead from the Zambia Public Procurement Authority so that works can commence.
FQML confirmed it is in talks with the power company over the 330 kilovolts transmission line that would cover a distance of about 400 kilometres.
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Philip Pascall said: “We are in talks with Zesco and we hope to have the project completed by June next year.
“It’s really a race against time and we are anxiously waiting for Zesco to call us and give us the good news.”
The company pays about $1.5 million in taxes to the Zambia Government every day – a total of 80 percent of all taxes the Government collects from mining companies.
The Sentinel copper deposit is located west of Solwezi in the North Western Province of Zambia and is part of the Trident project which comprises five prospecting licences totalling 2, 3000 square kilometres containing a number of attractive base metal prospects. First Quantum acquired the project in February 2010.
Mr Pascall added that while Zesco had a number of projects meant to increase Zambia’s power generation, the Sentinel project needed ratification now as his company was ready to fund the project upfront.
He said: “All the $230 million we shall give to do up the power line and we shall recover the money over a period of five years.”