Lusaka, Zambia — 04 October 2013 – Production at Zambia’s largest copper producing mine is facing a looming threat as stockpiles of unprocessed concentrates continue to rise because of inadequate treatment and processing facilities in the country.
Kansanshi Copper Mines spokesperson Godfrey Msiska said Kansanshi “’ a unit of Canadian-based First Quantum Minerals (FQM) “’ has stockpiled about 75,000t of unprocessed copper concentrates worth around US$133 million, which it cannot export due to the 10% levy introduced last year on unprocessed mineral exports, reports allAfrica.com.
“The stockpiles are jamming our operations and yet the local smelting capacity is not sufficient,” Msiska said, adding that the company was seeking a government tax waiver to export the stockpiles.
The rising stockpiles are overwhelming the company’s storage facilities, and this could soon reach levels that may inhibit production.
A government official at the Mines Ministry said talks over incentives and tax waivers were progressing well, but warned that mining firms should not expect a lot of concessions.
“The mining companies are still making profits despite reduced prices,” the official said.
The levy on the export of unprocessed concentrates is intended to encourage value to be added locally and is part of a trend of restricting unprocessed minerals across Africa as resource-rich countries seek to benefit more from natural resources.
Kansanshi ships its concentrates for treatment at Vedanta Resources’ Nchanga smelter and the Chinese-owned Chambishi copper smelter, both about 160km away. About 60% of the company’s copper output is in concentrate form, requiring smelting and refining to produce cathodes.
FQM is building a US$500 million copper smelter as it seeks to end its reliance on Copperbelt smelters, which are coming under increasing pressure due to rising copper production across the country.
Zambian miners continue to be battered by low global copper prices, which have been weighed down by concerns over Chinese demand and higher global production.
The company said last month that its expansion projects in Zambia would come on stream in the next 18 months. They are expected to employ an additional 2,400 people and produce 445,000 tonnes of copper a year.
Source: allAfrica.com. For more information, click here.