Zambia’s largest copper miner, Konkola Copper Mines, is battling to control flooding at its underground mines following a power blackout that affected the company’s de-watering operations Friday, a company spokesman said Saturday.
KCM, majority owned by London-listed Vedanta Resources PLC (VED.LN), operates the wettest mines in Zambia and pumps out water every day to allow normal mining operations.
“The pumping of water is being managed by shutting water-tight doors in the underground mine,” he said.
Following Friday’s power outages, the mine resorted to emergency power imports from neighboring Congo to continue pumping out underground water, however the power voltage from Congo kept fluctuating damaging all de-watering pumps, he added.
Zambia suffered a nationwide power failure early Friday following the breakdown of its two main hydro power stations, which stalled copper mining operations on the Copperbelt and North Western province.
The state power utility, Zambia Electricity Supply Corp., or Zesco, managed to restore power supply later in the afternoon but the copper mines are still counting losses, according to people familiar with the situation.
Following the restoration of normal power supply, KCM personnel have been trying to de-water the flooded underground chambers to resume normal mining operations.
Zambia, Africa’s largest copper producer, requires at least $2 billion to overhaul its electricity infrastructure and build a new power station to guarantee reliable power supply, according to Zesco.