Message Mar 17 Juil 2012 06:15

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Zambia’s new mining projects
Published on: Sunday, July 15th, 2012

By Nawa Mutumweno – Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) is to spend $1.5 billion on a new copper project that would extend the life of its Nkana and Mufulira operations beyond 30 years.

According to the company’s chief executive officer Danny Callow, the Glencore International Plc majority-owned firm, was finalising a feasibility study which could facilitate the spending of an outlay up to $1.5 bn into another copper project.

If the feasibility study proves viable, the investment would be in two new ultra deep shafts and modern copper processing plants, which would enable MCM double its underground production of copper to 150 000 tonnes per year.

‘’Technically, we have completed the feasibility study and right now we just are looking at the financial implications. It will involve about $1.5 billion in additional investment,’’ he said on the sidelines of the second Zambia International Mining and Energy Conference (ZIMEC) held in Lusaka in June.

This investment, in addition to $2 billion already injected to upgrade operations, would enable the firm to produce copper at a lower cost.

‘’Preliminary indications from the feasibility study showed that mine life at both the Nkana and Mufulira operations would be extended beyond 30 years with this new investment,’’ Mr. Callow added.

A detailed feasibility study on the projects is expected to be presented to the Mopani board of directors for approval by August.

Meanwhile, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) also plans to extend the operations of its Nchanga operations by more than 25 years.

Mining at KCM’s Nchanga mine would have ended in 2013 but the company would be investing in modern methods to access copper from an upper ore body which was initially difficulty to access before.

‘’Nchanga had only life up to 2013 on the underground side. However, there was a difficult ore body called the Upper Ore Body. And knowing that Nchanga is the mainstay of employment for Chingola, what KCM did was to access that ore body,’’ company chief executive officer Jayekumar Janakaraj told journalists.

The project whose total cost is $180 million, is expected to add 35 000 tonnes of copper per annum to KCM’s output.

‘’Around $70 million has been spent in the next couple of years. 25 years is just a minimum life extension we have got for the Nchanga mine beyond 2014. As we continue drilling from the underground level, it will continue to increase life,’ he elaborated.

KCM, whose copper output totalled 200 000 tonnes in 2011/2012, has broadened plans to raise production to 400 000 tonnes annually in the next four to five years.

Plans to reach 400 000 tonnes annual copper production include completion of its flagship Konkola Deep Mining Project (KDMP) by December this year and ramping up copper production there to 200 000 tonnes from the current 15 000 tonnes.

The company, owned by London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, has spent close to $1 billion on the KDMP.

KCM has not abandoned plans for an initial public offer (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The listing has just been delayed due to extreme market volatility.

Currently, KCM is in a satisfactory position to sustain its operations. Thus, caution would be taken into consideration over the London listing as there is no urgent need for funds by the Zambian mining conglomerate.