HomeBase MetalsMulti-million rand Zambian copper project suspended

Multi-million rand Zambian copper project suspended

Copper ore approaching
the Luanshya concentrator
on KCM’s unique 11km
cable belt
Lusaka, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 19 November 2008 – Zambia’s Luanshya Copper Mine (LCM) – a joint venture of International Mineral Resources (IRM) and Bein Stein Group Resources (BSGR) – has suspended building of the US$354 million (R3.6 billion) Mulyashi copper mine while it reviews the international copper recovery process.

Chief executive Derek Webbstock told Reuters in an interview here that the Mulyashi copper project – which was expected to peak at 60 000 tonnes of A-grade copper output – had been suspended for four months from October this year.

“The project has been suspended until next year because we are reviewing the outcome of the recovery process … the metallurgical process is under review. We would like to have optimum recovery before we can restart the project,” Webbstock added.

He went on to say that LCM would also re-examine the viability of the Mulyashi project in view of falling global metals prices and the credit crunch, which had affected investments in many commodity-driven economies like Zambia. Prices of equipment had changed and the project cost for the Mulyashi mine might also rise.

“It’s a more complex issue now,” said Webbstock, “but we are determined to complete the project.”

Reuters reports that LCM  started to develop the Mulyashi project early this year under broader plans to peak copper output at 96 000 tonnes in the next few years. It was initially projected to start production by February 2009.

Touted as the future of LCM operations, Mulyashi would initially have an annual output of 60 000 tonnes and, together with production at the Baluba and other satellite units, would lift total LCM output to 96 000 tonnes in the long term.

Webbstock also revealed that the Baluba mine, a unit of LCM, would produce 20 000 tonnes of copper this year – down from a January forecast for 24 000 tonnes, after disruptions to production partly caused by poor power supply early this year. Chambishi mine would produce 1 200 tonnes of cobalt in 2008 – well down from an earlier forecast of 3 200 tonnes.