$500M Energy Facility to Power Copper Mines in Zambia

A Caterpillar Inc. mining truck drives past an open pit excavation at the Mutanda copper-cobalt mine, owned by Glencore International Plc, in Mutanda, Katanga province, Democratic Republic of Congo Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

A $500 million solar and wind energy facility funded by a TotalEnergies SE-backed firm and Chariot Ltd. will power First Quantum Minerals Ltd.’s copper mines in Zambia.

In the past decade, electricity shortages have harmed mining activities in the southern African country, which is nearly entirely powered by hydropower. The project is also a 180-degree turn for Vancouver-based First Quantum, which had intended to invest in a 300-megawatt coal-power project in Botswana to serve Zambian miners.

The Kansanshi and Sentinel mines, which produced 434,847 metric tons of copper last year, accounting for more than half of Zambia’s total output, would be supplied by a 230-megawatt solar facility and a 200-megawatt wind farm, according to First Quantum in an emailed statement Monday.

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The project will be funded, built, and operated by Total Eren, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, and Chariot Transitional Power, a division of London-listed Chariot. First Quantum stated that construction will begin next year and that the project is still in the early phases.

Zambia, Africa’s second-largest copper producer, is attempting to increase output by attracting more investment and mending strained relations with mining corporations under a previous administration.

Drought has wreaked havoc on Zambia’s 3,000-megawatt electrical grid. While the government has attempted to reduce the impact on the mining industry, which is the country’s primary source of foreign cash profits, it has also asked operators to reduce their use. Electricity tariffs have also caused a squabble between mining businesses and authorities in the country.

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The wind and solar project built by First Quantum will be one of Africa’s largest.

According to Fabienne Demol, Total Eren’s worldwide head of business development, solar energy would be generated during the day and wind energy will be generated mostly at night, with the project operating at peak capacity during Zambia’s dry season, when the country is most vulnerable to droughts.

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