Vedanta Base Metals CEO Chris Griffith said on Wednesday the company is talking to a range of financing partners to raise money for a restart of its Konkola Copper Mines unit in Zambia, including the sale of a minority stake in KCM.
Vedanta will remain the majority shareholder in the unit if a minority stake is sold, Griffith said in an interview on the sidelines of an African mining conference in Cape Town.
“We are in the fundraising process at the moment to raise $1.3 billion,” he said.
That may involve one of a number of potential outcomes, “one of which is a potential equity sale into Vedanta’s 80% that we own in KCM”, he added.
Zambia agreed last September to return control of KCM to Vedanta, which is owned by Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal, ending a row over the ownership of the assets that erupted in 2019 when authorities seized the mines.
Vedanta will retain a majority stake and operational control in KCM, in which the Zambian government also owns a 20% stake through state firm ZCCM-IH.
The financing could be raised in stages and much would depend on the structure of the deal, Griffith said.
Ties between Zambia and Vedanta soured after former President Edgar Lungu’s government orchestrated the seizure of the KCM assets and forced liquidation in May 2019, after accusing the company of failing to meet plans to invest in increasing mining output.
Since then operations have nearly ground to a halt and the operations are “heavily loss-making”, Griffith said.
Vedanta could raise copper output at KCM’s mines to about 200,000 tons after taking over operational control of the assets, the CEO said.
“We have a plan, we know what needs to be done, so the moment we get the keys back, we start,” said Griffith, a South African mining veteran, who was appointed to run the base metals unit last year.
While Vedanta has pledged about $1 billion in spending at the operations over five years, it does not need to raise all the financing in one go, Griffith said.
(By Felix Njini and Veronica Brown; Editing by Jan Harvey and Louise Heavens)