Zambian copper mine operations have been curbed

 @ibtimes
on January 21 2009 2:45 AM

Copper hoisting at Zambia's Nkana copper mine has fallen by 20 percent after a 1.2 km conveyor belt for transporting the ore was partially damaged by fire this month, a company official said on Tuesday.

Mopani Copper Mine (MCM), Zambia's second largest copper producer, owns Nkana mine and an official said hoisting of copper ore had dropped after the mine's conveyor belt caught fire, trapping 155 miners underground.

The workers were rescued and treated for smoke inhalation after the incident took place on January 9.

Passmore Hamukoma, the chief services officer at MCM, said the mine's operations had not been suspended after the fire, but ore was now being transported by tramming after the conveyor belt used to transport ore from a subvertical shaft to the number one shaft at the mine was damaged.

The ore has been transported by locomotives and tray cars from the subvertical shaft to 1 shaft. This route bypasses the conveyor system, Hamukoma said in an email to Reuters.

In the short term we will only be able to hoist 80 percent of our target but plans are being put in place to get to 100 percent by making available more tramming cars and two additional locomotives on the 2,880 (metres) level, he added.

Hamukoma declined to give production figures.

Mopani is a unit of Swiss firm Glencore International AG.

The conveyor belt caught fire underground around the 2,880 meter level and the fire was brought under control on January 10.

© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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