The US$800 million thermal powered power plant under construction at Maamba Collieries is an advanced stage with Government hopeful that its commissioning and subsequent operation will ease power outages being experienced in Zambia, one of Africa’s top copper producers.
Zambia’s power generation, at an average 1400 megawatt which increases to 1800 during peak periods daily, has failed to meet the consumer demand in the country and for export markets as espoused by the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), which promotes energy sharing among the 15 SADC member states.
The construction of the 300 megawatt thermal power is expected to reduce the inadequate power capacity generation by Zambia when connected to the national grid in collaboration with the state utility-Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation, or Zesco. The plant is planned for takeoff by 2016.
Commerce, trade and Industry deputy minister who is also Sinazongwe constituency lawmaker, where it is located, Richwell Siamunene, says, the thermal power plant, when completed, will ease power outages experienced in the Southern Province and Maamba area.
The connection to the grid will also benefit the entire country in which low energy capacity has stifled its envisaged economic growth rate averaged between 8-10% per annum as demand for power grows.
Xing Zhonghua the Site Manager for SEPCO Engineering, the company carrying out construction works says 60 per cent of the works on the project has been done.
And the Government is still looking for an equitable partner to take up Ndabwe Mine formerly Collum Coal Mine to resume operations at the 12000 tons per annum producer to resume operations after it was shut down by Government for various safety and environmental reasons when it was running under a Chinese company.
Owners of Maamba collieries and Singapore-based Nava Bharat Pvt, earlier projected to double coal output at Maamba mine by 2011 after modernizing the facility it acquired in 2010 for US$26 million.
The company acquired a 65% stake in Maamba, a key supplier of the heating substance to many of the copper mines and various private sector-driven companies in Zambia. A total 35% of the shares were retained by the state-run ZCCM-IH.
Earlier plans by the new owners were to build a new $12 million coal processing plant by the end of 2010. Maamba mine has 78 million tons of known coal reserves expected to last over 70 years.
The mine, produced 600,000 tones coal during peak production in the 1980s and had aimed to reach a maximum output capacity of 2 million tones of coal per year in the long term.
It was envisaged that the Maamba colliery at its peak capacity could reach 1 million tonnes of marketable coal and about the same tonnage of power grade coal to feed the power plant. The power project was estimated to cost $630 million of which 70 % was expected to be financed through debt and the remaining 30 % from equity by shareholders.
There are plans by the Government to eventually list 25 % of the shares in Maamba Collieries on the local bourse with a larger share of that coming from the government’s stake once the firm established a track record of profitability.