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The world turns out its lights for Earth Hour

Countries around the world are being plunged into darkness only for an hour to raise energy awareness.

People light candles as they take part in an event to promote "Earth Hour" in the financial district of Shanghai on March 23, 2013. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Some of the largest cities in the world have already been plunged into darkness and the world observes Earth Hour.

In Australia businesses in Sydney switched off their lights to cheers and applause as the world famous skyline dimmed to almost complete darkness.

Millions around the world are expected to switch off their lights on Saturday evening to commemorate Earth Hour.

The initiative aims at raising awareness about responsible energy usage.

This year's organisers of the South African leg of the event will attempt to break a Guinness World Record by powering a laser show with kinetic energy in Johannesburg.

Thousands are expected to take part including Miss Earth and members of the 49M energy saving campaign.

Meanwhile, Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba warned citizens to brace themselves for what he said could be the most difficult winter.

Speaking to residents in Kliptown, Soweto on Saturday as part of the 49M energy saving campaign, Gigaba said he is worried about how the country is going to go through this winter as electricity supply remains constrained.

The minister's statement follows renewed fears that Eskom may not be able to keep the lights on throughout the cold season due to the two week long strike by workers at coal producer Exxaro Resources.

Performance bonus payments have been called off at six Exxaro mines in Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

While an agreement has ended the strike Eskom said the power grid remains under pressure.

Exxaro Resources is one of Eskom's top five major suppliers of coal.

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