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FQM and ZESCO Collaborate to Enhance National Grid

First Quantum Minerals (FQM), the leading copper producer in Zambia, is intensifying efforts to stabilize the national power grid in a bid to propel the country’s copper production to 3 million tonnes annually. 

Recognizing the critical importance of a reliable power supply, FQM has engaged in talks with Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) to enhance the efficiency of the nation’s power transmission network.

This week, engineers from ZESCO visited FQM’s Trident mine in Kalumbila as part of ongoing discussions aimed at improving the effectiveness of Zambia’s power supply infrastructure. 

During the visit, ZESCO engineers were provided with insights into the operational and maintenance procedures of the mine’s electrical systems, followed by a workshop on grid stabilization across North-Western Province.

The collaboration between FQM and ZESCO comes in the wake of a historic agreement signed in November 2023, ensuring a 100% renewable power supply to FQM’s operations. 

Jed Goldstein, FQM’s Lead of Infrastructure Development, emphasized the significance of this partnership in aligning with President Hichilema’s vision of increasing copper production. 

Goldstein expressed FQM’s commitment to supporting the President’s goal and hailed the collaboration with ZESCO as pivotal in achieving grid stability and fostering economic growth.

A key objective of grid stabilization is to reduce power outages in the mining sector, which have been detrimental to copper production. 

It is estimated that each power failure results in the loss of approximately 35 tonnes of copper production, translating to a substantial loss in foreign exchange earnings and tax revenue for the government.

Furthermore, a stabilized grid will facilitate the expansion of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, which have been constrained by the intermittency of current transmission infrastructure. 

Lioko Sitali, Senior Manager of Systems Operations at ZESCO, affirmed the utility’s commitment to accommodating the projected growth in the mining industry and ensuring sufficient power supply to support industrial expansion.

FQM, accounting for half of Zambia’s copper production, acknowledges electricity as its largest cost component, spending over US$250 million annually on power from ZESCO. 

The recent 10-year renewable Power Supply Agreement (PSA) between FQM and ZESCO marks a significant milestone in ensuring sustainable energy supply to FQM’s Trident and Kansanshi mines.

Moreover, in line with ZESCO’s strategy to integrate independent power producers (IPPs), FQM is exploring an off-take arrangement with TotalEnergies for its 430 MW hybrid solar/wind project. 

The integration of this project into Zambia’s grid is expected to bolster the country’s renewable energy capacity and advance its environmental sustainability goals.

As mining investments continue to pour into Zambia, with expansions planned by major players like Lumwana and Kansanshi, the collaboration between FQM and ZESCO underscores the confidence in Zambia’s ability to provide reliable power for the burgeoning mining sector. 

FQM reaffirms its commitment to collaborative efforts with ZESCO, the Road Development Agency (RDA), and the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) to unlock Zambia’s potential as a leading mining powerhouse.

In conclusion, the partnership between FQM and ZESCO signifies a strategic alignment toward enhancing grid efficiency, fostering sustainable energy practices, and driving economic prosperity through increased copper production in Zambia.

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