DANGOTE Cement Zambia has agreed to start selling power to Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) to help the mining sector manage power shortages affecting Africa’s second biggest copper producer.
As part of its $500 million investment in Zambia’s biggest cement manufacturing plant, which came on stream in 2015, Dangote built a 30MW predominantly coal-fired thermal power plant to guarantee steady power supply.
Dangote buys coal from Nava Bharat Ventures’ wholly owned Maamba Collieries Limited, whose 300MW mine-mouth power plant is the biggest in Zambia. The 1.5m t/yr cement manufacturing plant also uses other combustible materials in its power plant such as used oils and tyres from its fleet of over 600 trucks. Dangote had planned to double cement production but a fall in the local kwacha currency and waning demand among local consumers has slowed expansion.
‘At the moment, we are producing more power from our independent thermal power plant than we need… we have got excess energy of 8-10MW which we are trying to feed into the national network through CEC,’ said Dangote Cement Zambia chief executive Albert Corcos. ‘We have concluded the talks with CEC, and all the materials needed for the construction of key infrastructure like towers and substations are available on site, and we should be able to conclude all these works by December 2019,’ he added.
Both companies are building infrastructure such as substations and a 66kV power transmission line for the evacuation of power to the Zambian electricity grid. Dangote expects to start selling power to CEC in Q1 2020, but Corcos did not specify the proposed tariff. CEC plans to import 200MW from the Southern African Power Pool for its mining customers to make up a supply shortfall after state power utility Zesco was forced to reduce power generation at its key hydro stations.
Zambia has accelerated investment in new projects to meet a rapid rise in electricity demand, but still faces a short-term deficit of about 273MW as low water levels at the Kariba dam have sharply reduced output.