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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Africa: August 10th 2006


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:: Zambia's Konkola to Spend $80m on New Copper Plant

Zambia's Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) will spend $80-million to build a Heap Leach Plant that will produce 50 000 t finished copper per year from refractory copper ores.

Officials say KCM plans to start the construction of the Heap Leach Plant this month at its Nchanga Open Pit mine in Chingola, 400 km north of the capital Lusaka.

Producing finished copper from refractory ores, tailings which have accumulated for more than 50 years at Nchanga Open Pit mine, is part of broader plans to raise total KCM copper output to 450,000 tonnes per year by 2010.

KCM produced 164 000 t of copper in 2005, about 11 000 t below its expectations. It plans to produce 200 000 t of finished copper this 2006.

Sixtus Mulenga the KCM head of safety, environment, mineral resources, said in an environmental assessment report seen by Reuters on Tuesday that KCM would produce a total of 570 000 t of finished copper from the ores.

"It is estimated that total expenditure of about $80-million will be required to bring the Heap Leach Project to full capacity," Mulenga said.

KCM, majority owned by London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, operates the Nchanga Open Pit, Konkola and Fitwaola copper mines, the Nampundwe pyrite mine and Nkana Smelter, which account for nearly half of Zambia total copper output.

Mulenga said total refractory ore reserves were estimated at 150-million metric tonnes at average grades of 0,8% total copper (TCu) and 0,5% acid soluable copper (ASCu) with a life project estimated at 12 years.

Mulenga said the new copper production would increase the life-span of Nachnga Open Pit by at least 13 years and guarantee employment for miners.

He added that the Nchanga Open Pit mine lifespan could be further extended upon discovery of more refractory ores.

Construction of the project is scheduled to start in August this year as soon as environmental approval is granted. The project is due to be built in phases with the first one to cost $2-million.

"The ultimate plant capacity is 12-million tonnes of ore per year. Annual finished copper production is 50 000 t," Mulenga said.




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