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Zambian power blackout hits mines

The Lumwana plant
at night
Lusaka, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 18 June 2009 – Australian and Canadian-listed Equinox Minerals Limited – an international mine development and exploration company – says its Lumwana copper mine in north-western Zambia has lost US$1.8 million (R14.5 million) in revenue, equivalent to 500 tonnes in copper production,  during the country’s national power blackout this week.

Zambia – Africa’s top copper producer – was plunged into darkness on Monday night after a transformer on the national power grid was gutted by fire, prompting the state power utility Zesco Limited to start importing power immediately from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Lumwana Mine said its operations had been affected for 18 hours, during which production was suspended.

"For us the loss in revenue is US$1.8 million (R14.5 million)," Lumwana CEO Harry Michael told Reuters by telephone from Solwezi, more than 700 km northwest of here. “We have now resumed operations, and we have returned to normal,” he said.

Michael said Lumwana mine – which plans to produce 170 000 tonnes copper metal in 2009 –  had resumed production yesterday.

London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc said one of its units – the Konkola Copper Mine – had experienced minor flooding after losing power for about seven hours.

“The mine is currently pumping out water accumulated on the 3 150m level. The extent of damage on this level will be assessed after pumping out the water. Meanwhile operations have resumed in the upper areas of the mine,” the company said in a statement, but did not mention the impact on output.

Konkola has said it plans to more than double output to 305 000 tonnes of copper cathode in 2009.