Zambia could raise copper output by one million tonnes a year by 2026

First Quantum holds the Sentinel and Kansanshi mines in Zambia….

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Zambia’s copper output could rise to around one million tonnes (mt) a year by 2026 as investment in expanding production at mines continues to add to capacity, the nation’s finance minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane, said on Friday.

Copper production is a key component of Zambia’s economy, but it has been gradually declining in the nation, Africa’s second-largest producer of the metal. The government wants to raise output to about 3mt a year by the end of 2030.

According to Mining Technology’s parent company, GlobalData, copper production in Zambia fell from 800,000t in 2021 to 792,000t in 2023.

However, the southern African nation could get a boost from the resumption of operations at Mopani Copper Mines, which has secured a new investor, and Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), after the state resolved an ownership dispute with Indian miner Vedanta Resources.

Speaking on Lusaka-based radio station Radio Phoenix, Musokotwane said: “The two mining giants (Mopani and KCM) were out of the equation, now they are back.”

Musokotwane added that investments in expanding First Quantum’s Kansanshi mine are also expected to support the rise in the metals output.

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Last year, fellow Canadian miner Barrick Gold announced it would invest nearly $2bn as part of a project to increase copper production at its Lumwana mine in Zambia, with the aim of extending the life of the mine to 2060. According to its predictions, output will reach around 240,000t by 2028.

Last month, United Arab Emirates-based International Resources Holding signed a joint venture with Jubilee Metals Group to extract copper from a waste rock dump in Zambia, with the plan of establishing four modular processing plants with a combined annual capacity of 2.4mt.

“So by end of 2025 to 2026, we will be producing more than a million tons of copper,” Musokotwane said.

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