Barrick Gold Corp said promising drill results could see the life of its Zambian Lumwana copper mine extended to 2060 from 2042, its Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a media briefing at the mine, Bristow said since 2019 Lumwana’s fortunes had been turned around, making it one of Zambia’s largest copper producers.
He said a new mineral royalty tax regime, which is scheduled to come into effect in January next year, would unlock additional free cash flow for the company.
To attract investment and ensure increased production, Zambia’s government has planned to restructure the mineral royalty tax with regard to copper.
Zambia earns 70% of its export earnings from mining and has pledged to review its mining tax policy and increase exploration to boost and diversify production.
Asked if Barrick, one of southern African nation’s largest copper producers – and the world’s second-biggest gold miner – had an interest in investing in Zambia’s Mopani Copper Mines, Bristow said the miner was open to opportunities.
“We will look at all opportunities that come our way,” he said.
Zambia is looking for an outside investor to reinvigorate Mopani Copper Mines, which needs a big cash injection to ramp up production.
Mopani, a large mine and smelter complex, is looking for new investors after Glencore sold the asset to state mining investment company ZCCM-IH in January last year.
ZCCM-IH hired Rothschild in June to help find a new investor to upgrade and expand it.
Mopani, which is more than 90 years old, has the potential to produce 225,000 tonnes of copper annually, nearly three times its expected 2022 production, but it needs investment of at least $300 million to fund a complicated underground expansion.
(By Chris Mfula and Bhargav Acharya; Editing by James Macharia Chege)