One of KCM’s Konkola
Mine shafts on the
Zambian copperbelt
 
Lusaka, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 06 January 2009 – Zambia’s largest copper producer plans to start purchasing copper concentrate from the Frontier mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and has taken new measures to cut production costs.

Reporting from the Zambian capital, Reuters quotes Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) officials as saying that the company was talking to owners of the Frontier mine in the DRC, and the Chibuluma and Kansanshi mines in Zambia, to procure "feed" to process at the new Nchanga copper smelter, which has an annual capacity of 300 000 tonnes.

KCM vice president of finance Vinod Bhandawat said that the mining firm – majority-owned by London-listed Vedanta Resources – was about to sign a deal to purchase all of Chibuluma’s copper concentrate, but no figures were given.

“We are looking for substantial quantities of concentrates from Kansanshi and Frontier to balance the capacity of our new smelter,” Bhandawat was quoted as saying in the internal publication, Konkola News. “About 25 000 dry metric tonnes of concentrate will give us about 7 500 tonnes of copper cathode every month,” he explained.

The Nchanga smelter plant which is currently undergoing commissioning suffered setbacks nearly a fortnight ago when a technical fault forced KCM to suspend operations temporarily.

Reuters reports that purchasing concentrates from other mines is one of many projects that KCM is planning to raise copper output to 500 000 tonnes in 2010 from estimated production of 200 000 tonnes in 2008. KCM also operates the Konkola and Nchanga open pit mines, the Nkana smelter and the satellite Fitwaola mine.

The company is currently developing the Konkola Deep Mining Project (KDMP), which is due to come on stream in 2010, and will produce 150 000 tonnes copper per year.