The Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) has started restricting electricity supply to at least two Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) transformers in Chingola, leaving only the Nchanga transformer which is also expected to be switched off once the copper processing smelter has been safely shut down.

And CEC sources say KCM had been given enough notice, and that technical teams from both sides had worked together in deciding which parts of the mine to restrict energy.

News Diggers learnt yesterday that KCM was owing CEC in excess of US$40 million in unpaid electricity bills and had failed to settle the debt despite several demands.

“The agreement that is there is that in situations where KCM defaults on payments for the electricity supply, CEC can give a notice of 14 days, which CEC did in March because KCM has been defaulting for a while. After that notice, KCM had agreed to be settling the outstanding bill in monthly instalments but they failed to do so for about three months,” CEC sources narrated.

“That is why they went to effect the shut down on Tuesday because before any restriction of power, teams from both parties work together to agree what will be shut down and what won’t be shut down. where power will be restricted and where it will not be restricted.”

Sources at KCM also confirmed the development, saying CEC had remained adamant to give KCM extra time to offset the outstanding bill, adding that the power supplier went to give a final 24-hour notice of power restriction on Tuesday.

“On Tuesday, CEC came and notified that they would be restricting supply today at 16:00 hours. They have gone ahead to restrict power supply to the two other transformer. The third transformer which is connected to the smelter has not yet been fully affected because it takes time to shut down its components. So the smelter is not expect to be operational any more, pending the shut down,”

“You know, the smelter is where production goes on, this is where the copper is refined and smelted and everything. It requires at least five days to be turned off safely, failure to which, it will be millions and millions of dollars in damage.”

CEC corporate communications senior manager Chama Nsabika, however, said the power restriction had not yet been effected.

“The position is that no power restriction has been effected on KCM yet. However, CEC has plans to restrict power supply within this week on account of KCM owing money to CEC in unpaid invoices equivalent to 3 months of power supplied. The plan to restrict supply will proceed unless KCM makes a substantial payment towards the outstanding amount,” Nsabika told News Diggers in response to a press query.