The new mining projects and stability in copper prices on the international market will push copper production to over 800,000 tonnes in 2017.
Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development chief mining engineer Fred Banda projected that Zambia’s copper production would increase to about 850,000 tonnes due to increased projects that will be operational next year.
Recently the Zambia Chamber of Mines (ZCM) projected that copper production would this year close at about 750,000 tonnes.
Mr Banda said the increase in production would be necessitated by the new projects such as the Mopani Copper Mine (MCM) Nkana synclinorium project, NFC Africa Mining Limited South East Ore Body (SEOB) and Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Nchanga Upper Ore Body among others, which were expected to start operating next year.
He said this when he presented a paper on Zambia’s mining industry history during the media training workshop organised by his ministry and the European Union (EU) in Chisamba at the weekend.
“Zambia’s copper production will increase to about 850,000 tonnes in 2017. The increase will come from new projects that will be operational next year,” Mr Banda said.
He said the Lubambe Copper Mines phase two will ramp up production to more than 45,000 tonnes with the development of the South East Limb would also contribute to the overall output of copper next year.
Mr Banda noted that as at 2015, mining contributed about 70 per cent of export earnings and that the industry’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product of the country was 13.5 per cent in 2014.
He said manganese production had reduced due to low manganese prices globally.
Mr Banda said only two companies which include Ferro Alloys limited in Laverne and Southern Africa Ferro Alloys limited in Serenje were currently processing manganese.
In a related development, Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) has challenged mining firms in the country to increase copper production now that prices seem to be stabilising.
Copper prices on the London Metal Exchange (LME) rose last week by 0.5 per cent to US$5,808 a tonne with projections to climb by 1.2 per cent last this week.
MUZ president Nkole Chishimba said in an interview that with copper price stability on the international market, the union expected mining companies to start full production.
“The increase in copper prices on the international market paves way for suspended projects to resume now that prices have stabilised,” Mr Chisamba said.