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Zambia: Maamba Plant to Mitigate Power Deficit

MessagePosté: Lun 2 Mai 2016 13:18
de Laf1986
ZAMBIA is grappling with an electricity crisis because of a 560 megawatts (MW) power deficit.

Zesco has embarked on a countrywide power rationing mechanism to preserve the limited water available for power generation.

The shortage of electricity has been building up for some time but is now more pronounced with reduced water levels at Kariba North Bank, Kafue Gorge and Victoria Falls Power Stations.

However, Government has stepped up efforts to address the problem through various power generation projects.

Construction of a 150 MW thermal power plant at Maamba Collieries Limited (MCL) in Sinazongwe District of Southern Province is one such project aimed at reducing the power deficit.

The thermal power plant's turbines are powered by steam that is heated by low grade coal, which is the residue of high grade coal.

For some time now 70 per cent of low grade coal had become a nuisance to the environment because it was left heaped and sometimes generated wild fires that posed a threat to human life.

The thermal power plant which was constructed at a cost of US$840 million, is 90 per cent done and will be commissioned by President Edgar Lungu in June this year.

Special assistant to the President for Project Implementation and monitoring Lucky Mulusa said after touring the plant recently that once fully operational, the Maamba power plant would help government to reduce on power importation costs which currently stand at $15 million per month.

Mr Mulusa said the project was very critical to Zambia as it will sustain development and reduce costs but more importantly, it will mitigate the current load shedding challenges.

He said that once the plant was fully operational Maamba Collieries would be expected to generate 300MW of power with the first 150MW to be rolled out in June and the second by the end of July.

An additional 300MW to the national electricity grid would help reduce the power deficit that the country was experiencing.

Mr Mulusa also said the country would be saving an estimated $500 every day when the MCL was commissioned.

He said the completion of the power plant has delayed because of wrong personal attitudes towards work by the people entrusted with the procurement, challenges at the Ministry of Justice and Zesco's failure to fulfill its obligation.

Government would ensure that all the challenges were rectified to prevent further delays so that Maamba could provide the much needed power to the people.

He said the company would provide most of its power to First Quantum Minerals (FQM) mine at Kalumbila in Solwezi and that the rest would be for domestic use.

"There were unnecessary delays in the project because of wrong personal attitude towards work by some civil servants and the $15million that Government was losing per month could have been avoided," he said.

MCL chief executive officer Venkat Shankar said the more than 400 skilled jobs have been created for the local people.

Mr Shankar said a total of 34 Zambian engineers were trained in China and were now working alongside expatriates and that a second batch of students from various universities and colleges would soon be trained.

"We want to reach a point where this plant will be run by Zambians because they are sole owners and that it could be ten years from now," he said.

Mr Shankar also disclosed that the company was supplying at least 20 tonnes of coal per month to Chilanga and Dangote cement plants for their operations and in turn, bought cement from them.

Meanwhile, MCL development trust manager Jethro Sikalunda said the company was also involved in helping the community through bettering their lives by relocating and building more than 107 modern households for families that were affected by renovations of the mines.

Mr Sikalunda said a total of K12.6 million was spent on compensating affected families running of the Maamba private school, construction and rehabilitation of roads and foot bridges among others.

He said the company was also running a college which is affiliated to TEVETA and imparted various skills in youths in that area and offered health services to the community through the camp clinic.

"We also attach great importance to culture so we are currently sponsoring traditional ceremonies and children with special needs," he said.

One could only say long live MCL power plant for being a game changer in the world of energy.