The completion of major copper mining projects in Zambia next year is expected to contribute to economic growth of 8.1% from 2014 to 2016, advisory firm KPMG states.
“Copper production in the country peaked in the 1970s at 700 000 t and gradually declined to 255 000 t by 1998, as a result of depressed prices and under- investment in the then State-owned industry. However, as copper production soars on the back of the completion of major projects and also because of the development of the new Trident mine, operated by Canada-based mining company First Quantum Minerals (FQM), Zambia is set to be at the peak of copper production once again,” says KPMG senior partner in Zambia Jason Kazilimani, Jr.
FQM reports that one of its major projects, the Kansanshi mine, has under- gone several significant expansions – the most recent being a smelter that is currently being built. It is estimated that the smelter will produce 300 000 t/y of treated copper concentrate. Before this new development, the mine’s initial production capacity was 110 000 t/y of copper.
By 2015, the yearly production should reach about 400 000 t of copper, which is a major achievement that will ensure the mine reaches it one-million tons of total copper production by 2017.
Another significant project is the Lumwana copper mine, in Zambia’s Mwinilunga district, in the North-Western province, which is owned by Canada-based mining company Barrick Gold Corporation. In the first quarter of this year, the mine produced 122-million pounds of copper at a cash cost of $2.68/lb.
Lumwana ore, which predominantly comprises sulfide, is treated through a conventional sulfide flotation plant, pro- ducing copper concentrate for smelting.
“Under the direction of the new leadership appointed in 2012, a turnaround team of functional experts and site management has been working to improve operations and reduce costs. Lumwana delivered a substantially improved performance in the second quarter of 2013, reflecting the changes to the mine plan and business improvement initiatives. The improved costs primarily reflected a major reduction in contract mining costs,” states Barrick Gold.
Barrick Gold further states that several other initiatives continue to be implemented on site to enhance the productivity of the core mining fleet and build upon the cost reductions achieved so far. The improvements at Lumwana have enabled a significant improvement in Barrick’s 2013 copper cost guidance.
According to the World Bank, Zambia has the largest known reserves of copper in Africa, 6% of the global resource. As a result, countries such as China are depending on the production of copper in Zambia to cater to their electricity demands. “China’s electricity generation and distribution industry accounts for 45% of copper consumption. Hong Kong currently consumes half of China’s electricity and a fifth of the US’s value. As a result, China’s demand for electricity and copper are expected to continue to grow in the medium to long term,” highlights Kazilimani.
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