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New investment in Zambia copper mines to double output

posted 7 May 2011, 06:07 by Mpelembe   [ updated 7 May 2011, 06:09 ]

Canadian mining company First Quantum launches construction of a billion dollar copper mine in north-western Zambia, an investment authorities say will help contribute to more than doubling the country's copper output by 2015.

Copper output in Zambia, Africa's top producer of the metal, will rise to 2 million tonnes by 2015 from around 900,000 tonnes this year as new mines open and others are expanded, the country's finance minister said.

Situmbeko Musokotwane told Reuters new mines and expansion projects by Canada's First Quantum Minerals, Brazil's Vale, Equinox, London-listed Vedanta and Glencore International AG would boost copper production.

"In the next five to six years we should be close to 2 million tonnes, we shall be close to 2 million tonnes and of course, the new mines are still to open," Musokotwane said in an interview.

Musokotwane said copper production was expected to rise to the targeted 1 million tonnes by 2012.

First Quantum on Friday (April 29) launched the start of construction of the 1 billion US dollar copper Trident mine in Solwezi, north-western Zambia, which is due to start operations in 2014 with peak production estimated at 300,000 tonnes.

"Volumes of copper, of this copper ore translates to 150,000 tonnes per annum rising to 300,000 tonnes per annum of finished copper product," said Phillip Pascal, First Qunatum Mines Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

The Canadian group, First Quantum Minerals will initially invest an initial capital of approximately 600 million US dollars, rising to 1 billion US dollars with construction of a new copper smelter.

An additional 400 million US dollars would be spent on future upgrades to the mine.

First Quantum also planned to build a new town and a multi-facility economic zone at the new mine which was expected to directly employ 2,000 people.