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Base Metals  
26 April 2017

Zambian copper industry has potential for growth if smelters come on line – Vedanta Resources

LSE-listed Vedanta Resources believes that Zambia could regain its position as Africa’s largest copper producer if all smelters in the country reach their full capacity.

This is the view of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) chairman and LSE-listed Vedanta Resources CEO, Tom Albanese, who spoke at a recent mining conference in the UK.

Delivering a key note speech at the Zambia Mining Investment Conference, Albanese also said that nations which forge industrial strategies aimed at diversifying their economies and building domestic and cross-border value chains to serve national and regional consumers will flourish in the current subdued global metals market.

“I expect Zambia to fall into this category,” Albanese told delegates.

The KCM chairman said that Zambia has world-class deposits and almost 100 years of copper mining history.

“It is this unique knowledge of the copper industry that draws miners from across the world and underpins the compact in the sector. This compact forms the basis for the creation of shared value in Zambia,” Albanese noted.

While highlighting Vedanta Resources’ 50-year vision for mining in the Copperbelt, Albanese noted that the focus would be on ramping up KCM’s flagship Konkola Deep Mine, as well as working more closely with local communities to help diversify the economy by supporting initiatives in agriculture and technology.

Albanese reiterated that Vedanta Resources and KCM’s objective is to increase production levels to 400 000 t of copper each year, which would quadruple KCM’s production over the next three to seven years. KCM is currently working with engineering consultants to review some of the technologies it can employ to boost production.

More than US$3 billion has been invested in KCM on mine expansions and upgrades, which include the Nchanga copper smelter, three concentrators and a tailings leach plant. In March, Vedanta Resources announced plans to invest an additional $1 billion dollars.

"We want to mine deeper, specifically at the Konkola Deep underground mine. This ranks among the world’s top 20 in terms of grade, with a delineated volume of around 300 Mt of ore. While our shaft is 1 500 m deep, our deepest production level today is at 950 m. Our target is to reach a level of development at 1 100 m,’’ Albanese said of the next phase of investment into KCM.

‘’We want to see Zambia’s copper industry flourish, of course, but we also want to see the creation of new enterprises and industries around these mining facilities that will provide better local sourcing options for our business and greater stability for communities in the Copperbelt,’’ maintains Albanese.

Feature image credit: Vedanta Resources

(The Konkola Deep underground mine in Zambia)

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