Lusaka, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 15 July 2008 – Zambia’s biggest copper producer – Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) – is to raise its annual copper cathode output by two-thirds from 150 000 tonnes in its 2007/8 year to 250,000 tonnes in 2008/09, and has started commissioning a major new smelter.
Reporting this from the Zambian capital, Reuters quoted KCM communications advisor Sam Equamo as saying that the company had also completed some shafts at the Konkola Deep Mining Project (KDMP), which is predicted to replace KCM as the country’s largest copper producer. Annual output would peak at 500 000 tonnes by 2010, he added.
KCM – which is majority-owned by London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc – operates the Nchanga open pit mine, Konkola copper mine, Nkana Smelter, Nampundwe pyrite mine and a satellite unit known as Fitwaola mine, which re-opened in June after it had been shut down last year.
Equamo said construction works at the Nchanga Smelter were at an advanced stage, with some parts such as the oxygen and acid plants, already commissioned.
The Nchanga smelter will have an annual processing capacity of 300 000 tonnes of copper cathode. “It is expected that commissioning of the entire plant will start in a month or two with full operations starting later, depending on the smoothness of the commissioning stage. The total amount to be spent on the smelter project is US $372 million (almost R3 billion),” he added.
Equamo went on to say that the KDMP – where the company had said previously it would spend at least US$1 billion (R8 billion) on development – had made tremendous progress. “The sinking of number 4 Shaft is at around 450m, while the headgear is at 60m of the ultimate height of 81m,” he said.
According to Equamo, operations at the Fitwaola open pit had resumed last month, and with the expected arrival of new equipment production should pick up soon.
“KCM’s future looks bright due to major upgrades and expansion projects currently underway,” Equamo concluded. “With the projects that we are undertaking, KCM is poised to produce around 500 000 tonnes of copper per annum by 2010.