FIRST Quantum Minerals Limited (FQM) will this year start constructing a US$230 million (KR1.22 billion) power line from Lusaka to Solwezi in North-Western Province for its latest mine, Sentinel at Kalumbila.
FQML managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) Matt Pascall said in Solwezi that his company was in talks with Zesco over the 330 kilovolts transmission line that would cover a distance of about 400 kilometres.
Mr Pascall said FQM had already agreed terms with Zesco and that the two parties were just awaiting a go-ahead from the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) to get started.
"We are in talks with Zesco for the construction of a power transmission line from Lusaka West in Lusaka up to our new mine Sentinel here in Solwezi. This will cost at least US$230 million and projected to be done by June next year.
"It's really a race against time and we are anxiously waiting for Mr Cyprian Chitundu (Zesco managing director) to call us and give us the good news. Otherwise, we are ready to start," said Mr Pascall who was flanked by Kansanshi Mine assistant general manager, Alan Delaney.
FQM would invest more than $2 billion in Sentinel Mine which will be Africa's biggest copper mine with a capacity to produce more than 500, 000 tonnes of copper concentrates per year.
FQM pays an average US$1.5 million in taxes to Government everyday which comes to about 12 per cent of taxes Government collects and more than 80 per cent of all taxes Government collects from mining companies.
Mr Pascall said Zesco had a number of projects meant to increase Zambia's power generation capacity with expansion to Kariba North Bank as well as Kafue Gorge Lower.
"But for now, we are the ones who need the power soonest, so we are ready to fund this project upfront.
"All the $230 million we shall give to do up the power line and we shall recover the money over a period of five years," he said.
He said the power line would tap power from the Tata-owned 120 megawatts Itezhi-tezhi hydro-power station currently under construction to Kalumbila Minerals limited, which should become operational in June 2014.