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Let mines import own power – EAZ

Mines should be given permission to import power directly up to March 2020 if we are to cut down or completely end load shedding. Economic Association of Zambia (EAZ) President Lubinda Habazoka has said.
Speaking to the daily nation on Wednesday, Dr. Habazoka said mines accounted for over 55 percent of power consumed in Zambia and that if they were allowed to import the commodity directly and allow other consumers to benefit from its share, load shedding would be drastically reduced.
He said the current power shortage could be solved by taking advantage of the differences in consumers in the economy and come up with decisions that would ease the problem.
“If we wean off the mining industry from supply of power generated locally and if at least a number of mines are not on our demand, we have the potential to drastically reduce load shedding and even ending it because the mines consume more than 55 percent of the power that we produce.
“In an event that all this power consumed by the mines go to other consumers, we can cut load shedding,” Dr. Habazoka has said.
He noted that household consumers found the electricity tariffs to be high and that the only plausible way to go around the issue was by looking at players in the economy that exported their products, and that the mines were in the best position to import electricity on their own.
“Most of the produce from the mining industry is exported and they get foreign exchange for that. This means they are not very elastic to foreign exchange rate movement and so if we have to cushion the negative impact of power shortage, we need to allow mining companies to import power direct at rates they deem to be profitable for themselves,” he said.
He said allowing the mines to import power directly was important because it would help Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) manage to supply power to all its consumers without shifting the burden to household consumers.
He said once mining companies were allowed to import power directly, a wheeling fee for ZESCO and Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) would be negotiated such that it became economically viable for both the mining companies and the power utility companies.
“ZESCO and CEC will also need to get something from this importation by the mines for using their transmission lines. These parties should sit down and ensure that this is done for the sake of saving Zambia’s economy.
“Fees that should be charged by CEC and ZESCO should not disadvantage the mines and the mines should not offer conditions to disadvantage both utilities. This is because the common denominator is Zambia’s economy,” he said.

By Bennie Mundando , Daily Nation.

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