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First Quantum says Zambia power cuts hit mining operations

July 28 (Reuters) – Canadian-based copper miner, First (Shanghai: 603806.SS – news) Quantum Minerals, said that power cuts imposed by Zambia’s state-run electricity company have hit its mining operations in the north western province of the country.

“Facilities at the Kansanshi mine, smelter and the Sentinel project are currently operating at reduced capacities while various options to alleviate the effect on production are being evaluated,” it said in a statement released on Monday.

First Quantum said it was unable to provide estimates on how long the power supply reduction would last or its impact on production.

Zambia, Africa’s No.2 copper producer, said earlier in July that it planned to cut power supplies to mines by up to 30 percent after water levels at its hydro-electric projects dropped due to drought, sources told Reuters.

The country’s power provider ZESCO has contracted independent power producers to procure more electricity by the end of 2015, First Quantum said.

First Quantum’s Zambian smelter, which ramped up in February, is expected to produce over 300,000 tonnes of copper metal from around 1.2 million tonnes of concentrate a year, when it reaches full operation.

Other foreign companies running mines in the southern African nation include Glencore (Xetra: A1JAGV – news) , Barrick Gold Corp and Vedanta Resources (Other OTC: VDNRF – news) (Reporting by Melanie Burton in MELBOURNE; Editing by Ed Davies)

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