Copperbelt Energy Corporation PLC has cut off power supply to Mopani Copper Mines following a dispute over tariffs.
Mopani Copper Mines Management has since started withdrawing its underground workforce to avoid loss of life.
One of the workers at the mine told News Diggers! in an interview that production at the mine had completely stalled due to the power cut.
“Yesterday, those who were doing day shift worked but for those who were doing afternoon shift and night shift were sent back home because CEC has increased the tariff from 30 per cent to 75 per cent. Now because of this misunderstanding, the matter is now in court and we are yet to see the outcome. Mopani don’t want this tariff to be more than 50 per cent. The matter will come up on 17th August but CEC has stopped giving us enough power except for a few lines. All production has been stopped at the moment for both Nkana and Mufulira. We were addressed in the morning by the Mining Manager and Operations Manager. They told us to wait but I think nothing has been done so far and people are being told to go back,” said the affected employee.
“This is serious and it has affected a lot of things and we don’t know if some people will lose jobs if government cannot intervene.”
Below is a memo which was circulated to employees by Mopani mining manager (Ndola SV Shaft) Brian Herbert:
During the previous week, CEC and Mopani have been in negotiations regarding a tariff increase by CEC, a commitment that there would be no disruptions to supply was made. On Friday, 11th August, CEC informed Mopani that they would implement power restrictions. This restricted the entire mine to sufficient power to continue pumping operations and the conveyance of people for these operations only, with plants such as the smelter being stopped. Due to these restrictions the chiefs made the difficult decision to remove all personnel from underground except pumping crews to ensure that our safe mining policy would be complied with.
Had people gone underground and become sick or injured, we could not guarantee that there would be sufficient power to remove them from underground hence the decision to stop operations.
During the 11th, Mopani instituted an injunction on CEC’s power restrictions which was guaranteed by the courts, forcing CEC to supply normal power to operations.
CEC and Mopani will be going back to court on Thursday 17th August to submit their arguments regarding the tariff increase. It is important that we go underground and put this issue out of our minds. The chiefs will continue with this fight on our behalf. We must focus on safe working. Since working places have been standing for two shafts, early entry examinations are critical and must be carried out to ensure all persons remain safe. Shift bosses to enter with crews. If any area requires rehabilitation, stop and fix before proceeding.