The rising commodities prices are to spur the country’s copper production, government officials have said.
Paul Chanda, Mines permanent secretary said the prospects for 2017 are largely positive.
Government projects copper production to exceed 850,000 tonnes on account of recovering prices nearing US$6,000 per tonne.
“The commodity prices have shown signs of rebounding and are expected to continue making positive gains in 2017, driven by the favourable commodity prices and continued recapitalisation of the mines,” Chanda said.
Chanda said the mining sector did not perform as projected due to the depressed copper prices, last year.
“The performance of the mining sector in 2016 was not as the Ministry had projected. This was mainly due to the low commodity prices that led to the curtailment of operations and non-commencement of certain projects. However, we can state that the performance was average,” he said.
Large-scale copper production for 2016 was 770,588 tonnes, up from 710,860 tonnes in 2015, reflecting an increase of 8.4 percent.
“This increase was mainly driven by the ramp up in production at Kalumbila and increased production at Kansanshi due to improved efficiency in the processing plants,” he said.
Chanda said despite the overall increase in total copper output last year, mining companies such as Mopani Copper Mines and Lubambe faced challenges in mining the red metal, which included low commodity prices and electricity supply constraints.
“Notable reductions in production levels were recorded by Mopani following the suspension of some production ends to allow for refurbishment and completion of expansion projects. Lubambe reduced on its production following the challenge it faced in handling the huge volumes of water it has encountered in the course of its mining operations,” Chanda said.
Statistics also shows small-scale copper production for 2016 was 3,701.8 tonnes, up from 3,100 tonnes recorded in 2015, mainly attributable to the increase in the mineral processing plants that had been set up by small-scale producers.