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Zambian copper production falls

General view of
the plant at Lumwana
“’ one of Zambia’s
main copper mines
Lusaka, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 18 March 2010 – Copper production in Zambia “’ Africa’s largest producer “’ fell 13% in January 2010 compared to the same month in 2009 due to earlier mine closures, but analysts say there are good prospects for higher output.

The country’s Central Bank revealed in a statement released here that copper production had declined to 54 518 tonnes in January this year from 62 621 tonnes the previous January. Copper exports in January 2010 had increased to 56 676 tonnes versus 55 199 in 2009, the Bank of Zambia (BOZ) said.

Zambia had previously predicted that copper production could hit 1.0 million tonnes by 2011 as new mines came on stream and expansions and upgrades took place at existing mines.

Economist Oliver Saasa said that despite the output fall, Zambia would still produce more than 700,000 tonnes in 2010, as the price outlook appeared positive. “The decline is insignificant and we still have a very long year to go,” added University of Zambia professor of economics Saasa.

He said the future of both copper and cobalt mining was favourable as most of the mines had embarked on programmes of reinvestment after the global financial crisis.

“One only hopes that politics will not discourage further investment with the elections coming up next year,” Saasa concluded.