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LUSAKA (Reuters) – Teal Mining has agreed a forward deal for processing copper concentrate with a Chinese-owned copper smelter currently under construction in Zambia, a company official said on Monday.

South-African-based Teal Mining has copper, cobalt and gold interests in Zambia, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Teal is also listed in Canada.

Teal vice president for investor relations and corporate development Julian Gwillim said the company, which plans to produce 25,000 tonnes copper metal per year at its Zambia unit, had also concluded a letter of commitment for power supply.

The power distributor to all Zambian mines, the Copperbelt Energy Company (CEC), will supply Teal’s mine.

Gwillim said the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) had approved Teal’s final environmental impact assessment study for the Konkola North Copper project, where Teal is due to start producing copper by 2009.

“The environmental assessment was approved in May (and) we concluded these (agreements) a couple of months ago,” Gwillim told Reuters by telephone from South Africa.

Teal said in a separate statement that it had reached an agreement with Chambishi Copper Smelter, where the Chinese government is spending $250 million to construct one of Zambia’s largest smelters.

Teal said it was also discussing with Zambia authorities the newly introduced mining taxes, which include a 25 percent profit windfall tax and 15 percent variable profit tax, introduced in April, but it gave no further details on the negotiations.

Teal said it had done extensive metallurgical tests under a feasibility study which includes construction of a metallurgical plant to produce 25,000 tonnes copper metal per year.

The company’s latest data showed that copper resources in the south limb of the mine totalled 51 million tonnes at a grade of 2.35 percent copper.

“The resource is now used for mine planning and scheduling, together with a review of capital and operating costs, to finalise an amended feasibility study,” the statement added.

Teal wholly owns the Konkola North Copper project, with Zambia’s state-run ZCCM-IH holding an option to purchase 20 percent of shares in the project.

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