* BHP shuts Olympic Dam mine after power outage
* Minerals also halts copper mine
* Port Pire lead smelter down
(Recasts, add details of more closures)
By James Regan
SYDNEY, Sept 29 A power outage in South
Australia has halted more than 300,000 tonnes of annual copper
production capacity and knocked out the Australian state's only
lead smelter, producers said on Thursday.
A massive blackout in South Australia on Wednesday forced
BHP Billiton to suspend production at its
Olympic Dam copper mine to divert back-up power to maintain
essential operations at the remote site.
A BHP spokesman did not say when operations would resume at
the mine, which produced 203,000 tonnes of copper in fiscal
2016, or about 13 percent of company-wide output.
The outage also brought Oz Minerals' Prominent Hill
mine, which is forecast to produce up to 125,000 tonnes of
copper in concentrate this year, to a halt, a spokesman said.
He also could not say when operations would restart.
"Production has been put on hold until further notice," the
Nyrstar NV said its 185,000-tonnes-per-year Port
Pirie lead smelter will be out of action for up to two weeks.
London lead futures climbed to the highest since May
last year over supply concerns.
A back-up diesel generator at the smelter kept the furnace
going for several hours when power was cut to the entire state
But repairs to a blast furnace, damaged when power was lost
and slag solidified, could result in the company losing "three
to five million euros".
"It is expected that the blast furnace will be down for
approximately 10 to 14 days for repairs," Nyrstar said.
Severe storms and thousands of lightning strikes knocked out
power to the entire state of South Australia on
A BHP spokesman said back-up generators were providing power
to critical infrastructure but a full restart of operations will
only occur when full power is restored.
It was too early to determine if BHP would seek legal
protection from supply obligations under a declaration of force
majeure, he said.
The blackout happened after strong winds destroyed major
power lines north of the state capital Adelaide and lightning
struck a power plant, causing a surge across the grid. The
network and link to neighbouring Victoria state shut down to
prevent damage to infrastructure, causing a state-wide outage.
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Ed