Mopani Copper Mines has suspended operations at some of its facilities in Kitwe and Mufulira following the Copperbelt Energy Corporation -CEC’s decision to restrict power supply to the mining firm over a tariff dispute.
Mopani Copper Mines Public Relations Manager Nebert Mulenga says the mining firm has however managed to evacuate its entire underground staff before power was restricted.
Mr. Mulenga has told ZNBC News that the dispute with CEC arises from the new electricity tariffs which took effect on January ONE this year.
On Friday, Mopani Copper Mines sent home dozens of its workers when the restriction of power supply was effected.
And Copperbelt Energy Corporation Senior Manager Corporate Communications Chama Nsabika has disclosed that all mining firms are paying for power using the new tariffs but Mopani Copper Mines is the only one refusing to do so.
Ms Nsabika says for the past eight months, Mopani has refused to pay and CEC has been left with no option but to cut supply of power to the level where it makes monthly contributions.
Meanwhile, Mine Workers Union of Zambia -MUZ General Secretary Joseph Chewe has called on the mining firm and CEC to amicably resolve their dispute and avoid escalating the situation.
Mr. Chewe says the labour movement is worried that if the restriction of power supply to Mopani Copper Mines continues, some workers may lose their jobs.
The Copperbelt Energy Corporation buys electricity from ZESCO and sales it to mining firms.