ZESCO Restoring Power as National Failure Hurts Mine Production

The Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC)

Zambia, Africa’s biggest copper producer, is trying to restore power after a nationwide failure cut supply to mines owned by Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX), Vedanta Resources Plc (VED) and Glencore Xstrata Plc. (GLEN)

“Grid power is back in our operation areas,” after a national blackout, said Chama Nsabika-Kalima, a spokeswoman for Copperbelt Energy Corp., which buys power from state utility Zesco Ltd. and supplies it to copper producers. “Our teams are ensuring voltages are right before connecting loads.”

Power was restored in the capital, Lusaka, after an outage that began before 8 a.m., said Bestty Phiri, a spokesman for Zesco, adding that the supply situation in the nation’s Copperbelt province wasn’t known. Copper produced by First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM) and other mining companies accounts for about 70 percent of Zambia’s export earnings.

Zesco is “stabilizing the load and they are now sequentially switching” power back on, Nathan Chishimba, a spokesman for Barrick Gold’s Lumwana mine, said by mobile phone from Lusaka. The outage was caused by a problem at the Kafue Gorge hydropower plant, he said.

Zesco generates more than 90 percent of Zambia’s electricity with more than half coming from the 990-megawatt Kafue plant. The state-owned utility periodically cuts supply to factories and households to address a national power deficit and stabilize the grid.

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