Electricity shortage, low copper prices hit Zambian mines

Tue Sep 8, 2015 10:58am EDT
 
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* Zambia is Africa's No. 2 copper producer

* Power crisis, weak copper prices threaten output

* Glencore, other miners halting some production

* Govt steps up power imports to ease situation

By Chris Mfula

LUSAKA, Sept 8 (Reuters) - An electricity shortage and weaker copper prices have put pressure on Zambia's mining industry, threatening output, jobs and economic growth in Africa's No. 2 producer of the metal.

The power problems and copper price slide have driven the kwacha currency to record lows amid a selloff in commodity-linked currencies as key consumer China's economy has slowed, renewing pressure on Zambia to diversify its economy.

Glencore, Vedanta Resources Plc and China's NFC Africa and CNMC Luanshya Copper Mine have said they will shut down some operations due to the harsh business environment.

"This is serious, it could bring our economy to its knees," independent analyst Maambo Hamaundu said.   Continued...