First Quantum Mulls $1.5 Billion Plant to Power Zambian Mine

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. will consider investing as much as $1.5 billion to build a power plant in Botswana that will supply its mine in neighboring Zambia, a venture partner of the copper producer said.

Current plans for a 300 megawatt coal-fired plant with an estimated cost of $750 million at the Sese power project in Botswana could be doubled, Frazer Tabeart, chief executive officer of African Energy Resources Ltd., said Wednesday in an interview in the capital, Gaborone. First Quantum is increasing its stake in the Sese project to 75 percent for A$12 million ($9.3 million), he said.

First Quantum needs power for its 80 percent-owned Kansanshi mine in Zambia, the largest copper mine in Africa, which is expected to produce about 350,000 metric tons of the metal a year. The Vancouver-based company’s additional investment with African Energy will fund a study to determine whether to build the larger plant, Tabeart said.

“They will decide on whether they are going ahead with a 300 megawatt or 600 megawatt project early next year,” Tabeart said at a resources conference. Perth-based African Energy has the right to export any power from the plant that First Quantum doesn’t take up, he said.

John Gladston, a spokesman for First Quantum in Zambia, said he couldn’t make any immediate comment and requested that questions be e-mailed to him.

— With assistance by Mbongeni Mguni

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