Power cuts being experienced in Zambia have forced some mining firms in Africa's second largest copper producer to downsize on some of their operations, they said Monday.
Canada's First Quantum Minerals (FQM) Limited said it will cut about 1,480 jobs at one of its mine operations in northwestern Zambia following reduced power supply.
Mirriam Harmon, public relations coordinator at Kalumbila Minerals Limited, one of FQM's units in Zambia, said the mine has halted copper production at its sentinel mine because the country's power utility has reduced power supply to the mine by 42 megawatts.
She said in a statement that the power supply being supplied to the mine was insufficient to maintain viable operations, forcing the closure of the unit.
According to her, the 42 megawatts power being supplied has been directed to one of FQM's mining operations, Kansanshi Mining Plc, in order to maintain viable operations.
"Regrettably a reduction of approximately 1,480 jobs will be brought forward within the first weeks of August, including a combination of Zambians and expatriate roles in order to reduce on costs," he said.
The company has also suspended the recruitment of 350 new jobs.
If power shortages continue in Zambia and will not be supplemented by imported power, the mining firm will likely need to take further actions to secure viability, she added.
The mining firm, she said, has asked the power utility to assist with power imports to mitigate the possibility of more severe actions to reduce costs and maintain the viability of the mines.
Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, has however denied reports that it has shut down operations at its underground mine in Nchanga town on the Copperbelt Province and at its refinery.
Shapi Shachinda, the company's manager for public relations and communications said in a statement that the implications of the current power cuts were still unclear and that the company was in close consultations with the government and other relevant agencies in relations to the implications of the power cuts.
Last week, Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma said the government will not cut power supply to the mines because of the strategic role the mines play to the country's economy.
Zambia is facing a 560 megawatt power deficit caused by reduced waters in its reservoirs following poor rains. The country's power utility has since embarked on a program of rationing power.