Monday, October 07, 2013

Maamba Collieries urges govt to forgo dividends
By Kabanda Chulu
Fri 13 Sep. 2013, 14:00 CAT

Maamba Collieries Limited has proposed that the government should forgo dividends since ZCCM Investment Holdings has not contributed any funds towards the US$750 million coal fired power plant being constructed in Sinazongwe district.

The government through ZCCM-IH holds 35 per cent shareholding while Nava Bharat of Singapore holds the remaining shares of the mine. The foreign investors have solely raised financing for the power plant that would generate 300 mega watts of power when the first phase is commissioned next April.

According to sources who attended a closed-door meeting when mines and energy minister Christopher Yaluma visited the project site last week, Maamba Mines also raised concern about the delays by Zesco to commence works on upgrading transmission lines that will uplift power to the national grid at Muzuma sub-station.

"The minister's delegation was informed that there were challenges that should be addressed before commissioning of the power project and these included issues to do with Zesco signing an escrow agreement and upgrading of the power lines to 330kv," said the sources.

"ZCCM-IH's equity contribution which is lacking and a proposal was made on how it should be covered that dividends should be forgone, and land resettlement which is now a court case between chiefs Mweemba and Sinazongwe who are both claiming that houses being built for displaced people were in their chiefdoms and upgrading of the Maamba-Batoka bridges."

But Yaluma said ZCCM-IH was the only vehicle the government used to take part in mining projects.

"Government has a lot of interest… I see no reason why ZCCM-IH should drop off from construction of this project thereby forfeiting payments of dividends, should be it true that it is not coming forth then government will do anything possible to ensure that ZCCM-IH continues contributing to fulfilling their commitment to equity they took in," said Yaluma.

"We are not contemplating at any time that we can drop off as government or ZCCM-IH from taking a stake in this project, this is a very key project for government and we value it with importance than any other project we have gone in so this will continue."

And Zesco managing director Cyprian Chitundu reaffirmed that transmission lines would be ready by the time the power plant will be commissioned.

"There are certain works that we shall start doing from Kafue and financing is ready from the World Bank and shall commence works by November 2013. These are very simple because we are going to re-stream the lines by taking off the conductors and put up a double bison conductor that will operate at 330kv from 220 kv then we shall put in transformers to meet the increased demand. So we shall not disappoint our partners whom we have signed a power purchasing agreement with and works will be commissioned before the power plant is operational," said Chitundu.


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