Although, the mines accounts for less than two percent (13, 300 tonnes of copper in 2015 out of the country’s output of 711, 000 tonnes of annual Copper production), Chibuluma Mine, is one of Zambia’s most successful mines in safety, productivity and profitability.
The company has had only one fatality in eight years, and it has paid corporate tax every year since 2007, with a total of US$ 112 million paid to date, according to the latest Mining for Zambia report.
Chibuluma Mines head of finance Eustus Munsaka said the biggest challenge is that the current mineral deposit will be mined out within the next few years.
“Unless our ongoing exploration finds a new copper deposit worth exploiting soon, Chibuluma will probably close sometime between 2020 and 2022. All mines have a natural lifespan, and we are about to reach the end of ours,” he said.
He said the company has a multi-million rehabilitation programme that is under way to restore the landscape to its original state.
“Some 33, 000 trees have been planted, carpet grass has been laid, and firebreaks have been built.
“Once the mine stops operating, various structures and buildings will be demolished, roads will be scraped, more land will be replanted with vegetation, and any contaminated land will be neutralised with lime. The entrance to the mine will be sealed to reduce the risk of acid mine drainage,” he said.
After closure, the shareholder Metorex and its parent company Jinchuan will shift their focus to the larger copper-mining investments in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He said even though closure is still a few years off, Chibuluma has developed a good track record in its contribution to Zambia since it was privatised in 1998.
“The mine has paid taxes to Government, uplifted the community through its corporate social responsibility programme, and stimulated the local economy and job creation through the spending power of its employees,” Mr Munsaka said.
And Chibuluma Mine chief geologist Narendra Shekhawat said small quantities of silver are recovered as a by-product during the copper smelting process and it amounts to about US$16,000 a month