Zambia’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) said on Tuesday it was halting operations indefinitely at its Nchanga underground mine (NUG) in Chingola state due to theft of high voltage cables.
Konkola, a subsdiary of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, said it had also evacuated its 991 workers. The company said the theft occurred after midnight on Tuesday when night shift workers suffered a sudden power outage at the ventilation shaft.
It was later discovered that at least nine high-voltage copper cables at the 11 kilovolt substation had been cut off and stolen.
The Nchanga open pit mine is the second largest open cast mine in the world.
In a statement, Konkola said it was the second such incident in a fortnight, following the theft of 200 metres of high-voltage cabling.
Africa’s number two copper miner saw production rise to 770,000 tonnes in 2016 from 711,000 tonnes in 2015, below the Zambian government’s target of 1 million tonnes largely due to restricted power supply.
In June Zambia said is expected copper production in 2017 to rise to 850,000 tonnes.