HomeBase MetalsKCM grinds to a halt

KCM grinds to a halt

Aerial view of KCM’s
Konkola Deep site
at Shaft Four.
Chingola, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 24 January, 2008 – South Africa is by no means the only country with a power crisis – power failures in Zambia have disrupted the country’s copper mining operations. Production has been suspended at various mines to avoid endangering miners’ lives and damaging underground equipment.

A nation-wide power blackout over the weekend hit copper and cobalt output in Zambia and briefly trapped workers underground. Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) – Zambia’s leading copper producer – confirmed in a statement here that it had suspended operations due to flooding caused by the recurring power breakdowns.

A company spokesman confirmed that emergency power had been used to rescue miners trapped underground, and that equipment had been damaged. He said KCM was still busy determining the extent of the losses the company had suffered, and added that it was removing water from the flooded areas and repairing or replacing damaged equipment.

“We are still establishing when we will be able to resume normal operations,” the spokesman added. "The power that KCM is receiving at the moment is only sufficient for care-and-maintenance operations," he added.

KCM operates the Konkola, Fitwaola and Nchanga open pit copper mines, the Nkana smelter and Nampundwe pyrite mine in Zambia.

State power utility Zesco could not say when the power blackouts would end.

Energy minister Kenneth Konga told parliament earlier this week that he had directed Zesco to disconnect from the southern Africa grid in a bid to fix the power failures. The regional grid connects Zambia with Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.