Construction of the Mokambo underground copper mine in Mufulira, a unit of China’s Changfa Resources Limited is expected to start in August this year with an initial investment of about US$500 million, the company says.
During recent geological studies undertaken in Mufulira, the company established vast deposits of copper in the area which it said if exploited, could help Zambia realise its mineral potential.
In a statement, Company general manager Jun Lu said the company’s investment in the mine sites is expected to rekindle the future of copper mining in Zambia.
The company has since employed 180 people during exploration activities at the site and has so far invested $600,000 in its recently undertaken geological surveys, explorations and feasibility studies over the past three years, Jun said.
An additional US$2,000 has been utilized in putting up modern offices near the new mine site in anticipation that construction of the mine will begin by August 2014 when surveys and explorations are finalized.
Mufulira District Commissioner Chanda Kabwe said the Mokambo underground project is expected to contribute massively to the national treasury and the country’s development when fully operational.
An estimated 600 jobs are expected to be created in mining and construction of the mining project.
“The new mine will also offer an alternative source of employment as well as other incentives such as human welfare development under corporate social responsibility,” Chanda said.
Changfa’s proposed project will be the second mine to be established in Mufulira after the more than 80-year-old Mufulira mine, a unit of Glencore AG International Resources which operates under Mopani Copper Mines Limited.
Mopani’s Mufulira mine comprises among other operations a smelter, concentrator and acid plants.
Recently, Changfa Resources Limited said there are a number of copper deposits in the area worth exploiting to assist Zambia, Africa’s large copper producer, realise its mineral potential, said company spokesperson Jun.
Changfa Resources Limited has so far invested K300 million (US$600,000) in geological surveys, explorations and feasibility studies during the past three years.
“We will be mainly involved in underground mining and that is why our geological explorations have gone beyond 600 meters and we have promising results of the copper ore deposits,” Jun said.
Copperbelt Deputy Minister Mwenya Musenge said during the launch of the mine project recently that the company had pledged to invest about US$500 million in its operations when fully operational.
The mine is expected to create 3,000 jobs after three years and is projected to produce about 50,000 tons of copper per annum, according to Company deputy general manager Xiangyu Ervin Long.
Xiangyu said exploration works on the new mine had commenced three months ago after government gave it an operating license and that US$17 million has already been spent on the project.
The mining company pledged its commitment to observing Zambian labour laws, including the new minimum wage. Musenge is happy with the new project and that he wants to see good working relations between government and the new investor when the mine is fully operational.
“The interests of workers and investor should be respected. Mufulira residents have a duty to embrace the new investor,” he said.
Changfa Group of Companies has 60 subsidiaries around the world and has a farm machinery company located in Lusaka’s show grounds. Changfa group of Companies recorded an annual return of over US$2 billion, the company said.
The Changfa underground mine is expected to be fully operational in two years time while the exploration works will end in October this year, it adds.