Lusaka, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 1 September 2009 – Zambia’s largest cobalt producer “’ Chambishi Metals Plc “’ should look within the country for raw materials, because importing concentrates from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was not sustainable, says the Mineworkers’ Union of Zambia.
Operations at Chambishi were suspended in December and were due to re-start in August, but chief executive Derek Webbstock has confirmed that Chambishi would wait until mines in the DRC began to deliver cobalt concentrates.
He pointed out that it would only be economical for Chambishi to use material from the local Nkana slug dump, about 289 km north-west of Lusaka, if the price of cobalt reached US$24 per pound.
Zambian Mine Workers’ Union president Rayford Mbulu said Chambishi should source its cobalt concentrates locally because they were readily available.
“Chambishi is a processing plant and we feel it is unsustainable for the company to depend on raw materials from the DRC,” he added. “Mines in Zambia have these materials, and we do not understand the insistence on using material from the DRC.”
Mbulu suggested that the government should alternatively ask Enya Holdings “’ the new owners of Chambishi “’ to sell their stake in the mine to China Nonferrous Metals Mining Corporation (CNMC), which planned to resume production at Baluba copper mine in December.
“The normal arrangement would have been to let CNMC take Chambishi because Baluba mine has high grade copper and cobalt. That was why Chambishi was initially packaged with the mine “’ they can only be sustainable when together,’ Mbulu said.
Mines minister Maxwell Mwale said the government planned to hold talks with Chambishi on the operations of the company.