Lusaka, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 25 November 2009 – Zambia’s largest cobalt producer “’ Chambishi Metals “’ intends delaying its ramp-up to full production until cobalt prices have risen from the current level of US$18 per pound to US$22 per pound.
Chambishi “’ which is owned by Enya Holdings of the United Kingdom “’ had forecast output at 3 400 tonnes of cobalt in 2009, compared to 2 500 tonnes in 2008, before it suspended operations, which were restarted this month.
CEO Derek Webbstock revealed that although suppliers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had delivered cobalt concentrates, the processing plant would restrict operations to the leaching unit until prices ticked up.
“We will only re-start the furnace where we produce ferro-alloys from slag once prices reach the previous level of US$22 per pound,” he said in an interview with Reuters.
“If I can get material of a higher grade then I can re-start the furnace, because output depends on the quality of the material. We are presently not getting any raw materials for the furnace from the DRC,” Webbstock added.
Operations at Chambishi were suspended last December and placed on care and maintenance due to losses the company had suffered after metal prices had fallen and costs had risen in the global economic slowdown.
Webbstock could not state the current output, saying he needed to reconcile the figures in the first week of December. He said Chambishi would not use the local raw materials from the Nkana slag dump, 359 km north-west of Lusaka, at the current price because the slag was of low grade.
“We are producing the current cobalt from the leaching circuit. It is cheaper for us because we are not using electricity. The furnace remains an opportunity for the future,” he added.
“Chambishi will start processing copper concentrates after China Nonferrous Metals Mining Corporation (CNMC) unit Luanshya Copper Mines (LCM) has restarted output,” Webbstock said. Chambishi had forecast B-grade copper output of 20 000 tonnes in 2009.