Lotus Resources Limited, managers of Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga have said they do not want to use diesel gensets when the mine resumes operations because it is costly.
Instead, the company has engaged the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) for the power utility firm to connect it to the national grid and get at least four megawatts (MW) for its operations.
According to the company’s consultant in Malawi Grain Malunga, generators which the miner has been using, consume about 40 000 litres of diesel per day, costing the company about K76.8 million daily.
He said the company requires 10MW to fire up the engines; hence, they need Escom power to reduce operational costs.
Said Malunga: “The diesel generators require 40 000 litres every day and that is why it is important that Escom come in by connecting the company to the main grid.
“Some people used to complain that the company was not remitting enough to government, but look at how much fuel goes into it. So, Escom power can really help the company save a lot.”
In an interview, Natural Resources Justice Network chairperson Kossam Munthali said government should help Lotus Resources Limited to be on the national grid to avoid high operational costs.
He said: “We need to be serious as a country when we want to invest and where it matters. Paladin Africa [previous owners of the mine] at that time could claim that they were spending a lot on fuel for operations and this time we need to do things differently.
“When Lotus is now connected to the grid, Escom is assured of revenue, and the country too in terms of taxes which would have been spent on operations.”
Secretary for Mining Joseph Mkandawire said the matter is being handled to either get power from Bwengu in Rumphi, to Livingstonia and then Karonga or boost supply directly in Karonga.
He said: “We have been talking about this, we have discussed with our colleagues in the Ministry of Energy and currently, it is the Ministry of Finance which is pushing because I think there is need for some resources.
“They have been weighing some options on what to do, either to carry the electricity from Bwengu to Livingstonia and up to that side in Karonga and another option is whether to boost power at Karonga and take it to Kayelekera, but that’s too technical.”
Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola said Escom officials were better-placed to comment on the matter.
In an interview yesterday, Escom spokesperson Kitty Chingota confirmed that they are discussing with Lotus to connect them to the main grid.
“We are still discussing as this is a huge project requiring heavy financial investment. We should be able to provide the four MW required subject to availability of funds,” she said.