Vedanta to double output at Zambia's Konkola Copper Mines – regional CEO

LUSAKA, June 11 (Reuters) – Vedanta Resources plans to double finished copper production at Zambia's Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to 200,000 tonnes this year, the CEO of its Zambian unit said on Monday.

KCM has ploughed more than $3 billion into the southern African country’s copper mines since 2004, including a further $1 billion investment package announced last year to revamp and upgrade some mines as well as build a new refinery and power plant.

"Last year we produced just under 100,000 tonnes and I want us to get to 200,000 tonnes this year," Vedanta's Deshnee Naidoo told Reuters, adding that KCM is on track to produce 400,000 tonnes of copper a year in the next few years.

Vedanta also plans to invest $300 million in a 300 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Zambia and has started pre-feasibility studies, she said.

Naidoo, also the head of Vedanta's Africa Base Metals unit, said the company is also looking at building another power plant at a zinc refinery at Gamsberg in the Northern Cape region of South Africa.

Vedanta is already bringing on new production at Gamsberg, where output should start within a month, ramping up to full production of 250,000 tonnes annually in about a year, she said.

Naidoo also said that it may not be possible to mine underground in Namibia when the company's open-pit operations at Skorpion Zinc become exhausted around 2020.

"As it stands, we might only extend the mine life by another 2-3 years," she said.

Skorpion is expected to produce about 90,000 tonnes of zinc this year, reaching approximately 130,000 tonnes by 2020.

(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by David Goodman)