Mar 17, 2011 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Power sales to Zambia's copper mines in 2010 increased by at least 8% on year due to a ramp up of mining operations and the reopening of mines that had closed in 2008 because of low global copper prices, the Copperbelt Energy Corp. (CEC.ZM) said Thursday.
Company load power sales to the copper mines in Copperbelt province increased to at least 470 megawatts of electricity from 436 MW sold in 2009, CEC said in a report.
CEC procures electricity from the state-run power utility, Zesco, for supply to copper mines, mainly in the Copperbelt. The company also operates the power interconnector between Zambia and Congo that facilitates power imports/exports in case of shortages or abrupt outages in the two copper-rich nations.
As a result of the increased power sales, the company's operating profits rose 9% to $121.4 million last year, CEC said.
CEC citied the resumption of output at Luanshya Copper Mines, which was taken over by Chinese-owned NFCA Mining in 2009, as one of the main drivers of increased power consumption. NFCA is a unit of China Nonferrous Metals Co. (8306.HK).
The company said that it is targeting to supply an additional 100 MW of power to various mining projects currently being implemented.
Those include Mulyashi Copper Project, being implemented by NCFA; Konkola North Mine Project, a joint venture between Brazilian mining company Vale SA (VALE, VALE5.BR) and South Africa-based African Rainbow Minerals Ltd. (ARI.JO) and expansions at Mopani
Copper Mines (MOPANI.ZM) and Konkola Copper Mines.
CEC in partnership with Congo's power utility, SNEL is constructing a double circuit interconnector between Zambia and Congo. The new line is expected to allow the import of up to 550 MW from Congo to Zambia.
Zambia is Africa's largest copper producer.