Vedanta Resources Plc’s Konkola Copper Mines Plc unit in Zambia got a court order preventing its power supplier from cutting services over a disputed bill.
An interruption would create “a serious flooding incident, which would result in permanent ruining of the mine investment worth billions of dollars,” Konkola said in papers to the High Court in Lusaka, the capital. It may also result in “massive loss of life” to more than 5,000 underground shift workers, the company said.
Konkola operates a mine that is the country’s single-biggest electricity user and the wettest in the world, pumping 350,000 cubic meters (12 million cubic feet) of water to the surface daily, equal to 140 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Copperbelt Energy Corp Plc, which supplies power to most mines in Africa’s second-biggest copper producer, sent a letter dated April 8 to Konkola in which it threatened to cut off electricity unless the mining company settled payment defaults within two weeks, a court filing shows. The Vedanta unit disputed the default claims, it said.
High Court Judge Eddie Sikazwe on April 22 granted an interim injunction to Konkola preventing Copperbelt Energy from cutting its power supplies until a final decision after arbitration. The arbitration hearing was postponed to May 21 from May 7.
Copperbelt Energy claims Konkola owes it 9.2 million kwacha ($1.4 million).
Chama Nsabika-Kalima, a Lusaka-based spokeswoman for Copperbelt Energy, and Shapi Shacinda, a Konkola spokesman, weren’t able to comment immediately when contacted by mobile phone.
The case is Konkola Copper Mines Plc versus Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc.