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LUSAKA, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Mopani Copper Mines, Glencore's Zambian unit, said on Tuesday it may lay off nearly 5,000 workers due to a dispute with its electricity supplier over prices that has led to reduced power supply to its operations.
Copperbelt Energy Corp. (CEC), which buys power from the state-owned electricity company and sells to mines, slashed supply to Mopani to 94 MW from 190 MW following a dispute over new, higher tariffs.
"Although we shall work on optimising the use of limited power that we are receiving, we expect that we shall effectively have to close several areas and our scaled back operations may affect a total of 4,700 direct employees," the company said in a statement.
Mopani will continue to negotiate with Copperbelt Energy Corp. and state-owned Zesco Ltd but was unable to maintain its workforce without adequate power, it said.
Energy minister David Mabumba said last week Mopani had failed to pay the new flat electricity tariff of 9.3 cents/Kwh agreed by Zesco and mining companies.
Mopani has a total workforce of 15,000 employees and produced 129,000 tonnes of finished copper in the year ended December 2016. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Joe Brock)