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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Africa: August 1st 2005


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:: Zambia, Congo and Namibia to Build Copper Smelter

Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Namibia will jointly build a copper smelter and refinery in a bid to raise production of finished copper, an industry official said on Saturday.

Veston Malango, executive director of Namibia's Ongopolo Tsumeb Specimen Mining, said the three nations had agreed to cooperate on the copper smelter and refinery project, dubbed the Lubumbashi, Ndola Walvis Bay Copper Forum.

Ndola is a mining town on the Copperbelt of Zambia while most of DRC's copper is mined in Lubumbashi.

Copper is Zambia's major export, providing two-thirds of the country's export earnings, while in the DRC copper mines are the major industrial employer.

Namibia, already the chief copper refiner in the region, also has large untapped resources of the metal which the government is keen to develop.

"Ongopolo, Metal Fabricators of Zambia (Zamefa) and Gecamines of the DRC (will) establish a large-scale copper smelter and refinery in Zambia ... a working group has already been formed," Malango told journalists at the Lusaka international agriculture and commercial show.

"We are now in the process of formally inviting the private sector from the three countries and all over the world to invest in this project," Malango said.

Malango said the three firms would conduct a feasibility study before the end of 2005 and that this would determine how much would be spent on the project and the production capacity.

Tsumeb Specimen Mining Limited is 100 per cent owned by Ongopolo Mining and Processing Limited which is also the sole owner of two other ventures carrying out exploration work and smelter operations in Namibia.

Zamefa is wholly owned by Phelps Dodge International Corporation, a subsidiary of Phelps Dodge Corporation of the United States, while the DRC's Gecamines is state-owned.

Malango said Zambia was chosen to host the smelting and refining project because of its huge copper ore deposits and also its limited capacity to handle copper concentrates.

Malango said the project would help Ongopolo raise its production capacity.

"Ongopolo plans to treble the smelting capacity from the current 30,000 tonnes but even that will not be enough given the region's huge potential," he said, but gave no further details.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.




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