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Zambia set to become top five copper producer reversing decline under nationalization

Zambia’s Daily Mail reports Zambia is set to enter the world’s top five copper producers in the next three years as Vale South Africa, First Quantum Minerals Limited and Vedanta Resources Plc lead more than US$6 billion of investment in the country’s mines, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie unit Brook Hunt has said.

Speaking at a recent mining and energy indaba, Zambia’s minister of mines said the country will not make the mistake of nationalising mines saying the country is reaping the benefits of selling state owned Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Limited’s assets, a process that started in 1996.

Zambia Daily Mail quotes analyst Sorphie Chung saying the country’s positive investment climate sets it apart from its neighbours:

“If all the planned projects take off, Zambia is expected to overtake Australia and Indonesia to become the fifth-largest copper-producing country in the world by 2013,” she said yesterday.

In June reported Zambia’s Finance Minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane mocked Zimbabwe and South Africa for planning to forcibly raise government stakes in foreign mines, saying “the Zambian miner in 1970s was a happier miner than a miner during the period of state ownership of the mines.”

Reuters reported on Monday that Copper output in Zambia, Africa’s top producer of the metal, declined by about 5 percent in the first five months of 2011 from a year ago as mines scaled down production due to heavy rain, the central bank said on Monday.