Zambia sees copper output easing slightly this year

Konkola Copper Mines smelter. (Photo: Vedanta).

Zambia’s copper production is expected to inch lower this year mainly due to lower output from Konkola Copper Mines, a subsidiary of London-listed Vedanta Resource, the mines ministry said on Monday.

Total copper production is forecast to fall to 753,992 tonnes from 774,290 in 2016, Ministry of Mines Permanent Secretary Paul Chanda told reporters.

Production at Konkola Copper Mines will fall by 40 percent while output at Lumwana Mine, owned by Barrick Gold, should decline by 15 percent, Chanda added.

“Konkola Copper Mines appear to be more experienced in processing than mining and as for Lumwana it is because of declining ore grades,” Chanda told Reuters.

The government had said in June that copper production was expected to rise to 850,000 tonnes in 2017 owing to expansion at existing mines and ongoing greenfield projects.

The Zambia Chamber of Mines, an industry body, said output would depend on power supply, infrastructure and stability of the fiscal and regulatory regime.

“Resolution of the pricing and provision of power remain paramount to the immediate future of mining in Zambia,” Chamber of Mines President Nathan Chishimba told Reuters on Monday.

Glencore’s Zambian unit Mopani Copper Mines will pay increased electricity prices caused by the removal of state energy subsidies, the mines minister said. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Joe Brock)