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CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) -- Venezuela may be forced to close its aluminum, steel and bauxite operations in the south-east of the nation due to a drought and electricity shortfall, a minister was quoted as saying on Monday.

"If we have to close the basic industries in Guayana, because the Guri (reservoir) is drying up, well we have to close them," Electricity Minister Angel Rodriguez said in an interview with financial daily El Mundo.

"We have to avoid the reservoir drying up completely."

The Guri, one of the world's largest hydroelectric dams, close to the Orinoco river, supplies about two-thirds of the South American oil-producing nation's electricity, but is at dangerously low levels, officials say.

President Hugo Chavez's government has imposed electricity rationing across the nation, from Caracas shopping-malls to the state-owned heavy industries in Guayana state that consume around a quarter of the nation's power output.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Tue Jan 5th, 2010 at 08:02:21 PM EST
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