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By Shapi Shacinda
LUSAKA, July 14 (Reuters) – Zambia’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) will raise copper cathode output to 250,000 tonnes in 2008/09 from 150,000 tonnes last year and started commissioning a major smelter, a senior company official said on Monday.
Sam Equamo, KCM’s communications advisor, said the southern African country’s largest copper producer had also completed some shafts at the Konkola Deep Mining Project (KDMP), which is touted to become the country’s largest copper producer.
Output would peak at 500,000 tonnes by 2010, he added.
KCM, which is majority-owned by London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc (VED.L: Quote, Profile, Research), operates the Nchanga open pit mine, Konkola copper mine, Nkana Smelter, Nampundwe pyrite mine and a satellite unit known as Fitwaola mine, which reopened in June after it was shut down last year.
Equamo said construction works as the Nchanga Smelter was at an advanced stage, with some parts such as the Oxygen Plant and Acid Plant, already commissioned.
The Nchanga smelter will have an annual processing capacity of 300,000 tonnes copper cathode.
“It is expected that commissioning of the entire plant will start in a month or two with full operations starting later, depending on the smoothness of the commissioning stage,” said.
The total amount to be spent on the smelter project is $372 million, he added.
Equamo said the KDMP, where the company has previously said it would spend at least $1 billion on development, had made tremendous progress.
“The sinking of number 4 Shaft is at around 450 metres while the headgear is at 60 metres of the ultimate height of 81 metres,” Equamo said.
He said operations at Fitwaola Open Pit resumed last month and with the expected arrival of new equipment production should pick up.
Equamo said KCM’s future looked bright due to major upgrades and expansion projects currently underway.
“With the projects that we are undertaking, KCM is poised to produce around 500, 000 tonnes of copper per annum by 2010,” Equamo said.
Copper mining is Zambia’s economic mainstay and the vast copper and cobalt mines are a major employer in this southern African country of 12 million people.
Zambia’s other major copper producers are Mopani Copper Mines, a unit of Swiss firm Glencore International AG and Canada’s First Quantum minerals, Kansanshi mine, which is owned by First Quantum and Lumwana mine, a unit of Australia’s Equinox Minerals Ltd. (Reporting by Shapi Shacinda, Editing by Peter Blackburn)
Meanwhile … Konkola Copper shuts plant after protest continue reading below.
LUSAKA, July 14 (Reuters) – Zambia’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) said on Monday it had shut down a plant in its Nkana business unit as a precaution after a protest by some of its workers.
KCM, which is majority-owned by London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc (VED.L: Quote, Profile, Research), did not say what impact the shutdown would have on production or when the plant, located about 350 km (219 miles) north of Lusaka, would be back in operation.
“A small section of workers at the Nkana Business Unit of Konkola Copper Mines Plc. today staged an illegal assembly in connection with the just concluded negotiations for a new collective agreement between the two unions that represent mine workers and KCM management,” a KCM spokesman said in a statement.
“The plant was shut down as a precaution.”
Zambian state media said the workers were upset by reports that their representatives had agreed to a deal that fell short of their basic wage demands.
There was no immediate comment from the leaders of the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) and the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW), which represent workers at KCM. (Reporting By Shapi Shacinda; editing by Paul Simao and Peter Blackburn) (Lusaka newsroom + 260-977843609/260-955779523)
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