First Quantum Minerals, a Canadian mining giant, reaffirmed its commitment to Zambia with ambitious expansion plans and a bullish outlook for the country’s role in the global green metals race. In its preliminary production and guidance update, the company underscored its dedication to the S3 Expansion project at the Kansanshi mine, expected to reignite peak production by mid-2025 and extend its lifespan into the 2040s.
The Kansanshi expansion, a $1.25 billion investment announced in May 2022, involves excavating a larger pit, deploying an expanded mining fleet, and constructing a new processing plant. Notably, a $115 million smelter upgrade aligns with Zambia’s national objective of maximizing mineral value within its borders. The project promises 800 permanent jobs and an additional 1,800 during construction, solidifying First Quantum’s footprint in the region.
Zambia’s potential extends beyond copper, as evidenced by the recently operational Enterprise nickel mine near Kalumbila. This top-ten global nickel producer, boasting a “green” carbon footprint thanks to a renewable power supply agreement, positions Zambia as Africa’s leading nickel manufacturer. With 700 full-time employees and an annual output of 30,000 tons of nickel concentrate, Enterprise is poised to fuel the green technology revolution.
But First Quantum’s vision extends beyond mining. Recognizing Zambia’s energy constraints, the company is collaborating with various stakeholders on private-sector renewable energy initiatives. One such project, a $500 million solar and wind complex led by TotalEnergies, is nearing completion and slated for commissioning in 2027. This 400 MW renewable energy behemoth, representing approximately 15% of Zambia’s current national capacity, would significantly bolster the country’s energy independence and attract further green investments.
First Quantum’s commitment to local development doesn’t end there. The company is actively fostering a vibrant mining supply ecosystem within the government-approved Kalumbila Multi-Facility Economic Zone. By incentivizing its suppliers to establish manufacturing facilities in the zone, the company aims to create jobs, opportunities, and a self-sustaining mining economy in the region.
“Our Zambia operations are at the heart of our future plans,” COO Rudi Badenhorst declared, highlighting the company’s nearly three-decade history in the country. “Enterprise will play a crucial role in supplying critical minerals for the global decarbonization transition, while locally, it will, alongside the Sentinel copper mine, establish Kalumbila as a multi-mineral hub with an economic zone to fuel its growth.”
Badenhorst further emphasized the positive ripple effects of their Zambian operations: “With Kansanshi and the Trident operations firing on all cylinders, North-Western province is well placed to benefit in terms of livelihoods, business opportunities, and from our extensive social development and environmental initiatives well beyond the next decade.”
First Quantum’s ambitious plans and unwavering commitment to Zambian growth paint a picture of a thriving partnership between a global mining leader and a nation primed to capitalize on its vast mineral wealth and transition to a greener future. With renewable energy investments on the horizon and a focus on local development, First Quantum’s Zambian venture is poised to be a beacon of success, not just for the company, but for the entire African continent.
By; Layeni Phiri