Message Mar 25 Aoû 2009 17:03

Zambia's largest cobalt smelter could reopen Sep - Govt offi

Zambia's largest cobalt smelter could reopen Sep - Govt official

Zambia's largest cobalt smelter Chambishi Metals PLC could resume operations next month, an unamed Ministry of Mines official was quoted on Monday (August 25).

The official said Government is in talks with the authorities of Congo's Katanga province to remove some of the restrictions imposed on unprocessed mineral exports across the Zambian border to enable the plant to receive supplies. "The plant should be able to resume operations in September," he said, adding that Government has not considered seeking an alternative investor for the plant.

His comments came after the Zambian miners' unions asked Government to give the Chambishi smelter to Chinese owned NFCA Mining to allow it to reopen.

The union had written to the mines ministry asking it to allocate the plant to NFCA because its current owners had delayed reopening it, leaving hundreds of its former employees jobless, Sikufela Mundia, the president of National Union of Miners and Allied Workers said on August 25.

"The Chinese are the only investors who have expressed readiness to keep investing in the mining sector," he said.

The plant was handed over to U.K. based Enya Holdings early this year and was expected to resume output in May. However, the reopening has been delayed due to lack of concentrate supplies from Congo and within Zambia.

In June, NFCA, a unit of a China Nonferrous Metals Co. Ltd. took over Baluba and Mulyanshi copper projects at a cost of US$50 million.

Chambishi Metals halted output in December due to low metal prices -