$323M Deep Nkana Copper Mine Project in Zambia To Start Output in 2015

Nkana copper mine

London-listed Glencore Xstrata PLC (GLEN.LN) is on course to commission its $323 million deep mine copper project by the second quarter of 2015, the company said Tuesday, as it continues an expansion drive in Zambia to boost production.

The deep shaft has reached a depth of 1,000 meters and there is only another 277 meters to go to reach the final depth, Glencore’s unit in Zambia, Mopani Copper Mines said in a statement Tuesday.

The shaft will enable the miner to access to some 115 million metric tons of mineral ores, it said.

The deep mine project, which is known as the Synclinorium Shaft, is designed to extend the lifespan of Mopani’s Nkana copper mine, in Kitwe on the Coperbelt, by a 25 to 30 years and safeguard up to 3,000 jobs, the company said.

In addition to the Synclinorium Shaft, Glencore is upgrading its cobalt plant in Zambia to enable it to more than double its current production capacity to 7,000 tons from 2,800 tons by 2015.

“I am encouraged that the project is on target both in terms of time and budget…I have no doubt that the team…will ensure that the remaining part is delivered both on time and within budget come the second quarter of 2015,” said Danny Callow, Mopani’s chief executive.

The expansions are being implemented as miners in Zambia, Africa’s largest copper producer, are grappling with suppressed global copper prices weighed down by concerns over slowing Chinese demand and higher global production.

Mining companies are currently in talks with the Zambian government to press for incentives and tax waivers amid the low global prices.