Mopani Copper Mines copper output rises 12 percent, says report

Glencore Xstrata increased its copper outturn by more than 12 percent at its Mopani Copper Mines in Zambia last year compared to a year earlier, as expansion bolstered by investment in the local unit rose; company says.

Annual Copper output  rose 12 percent to 111,000 tons last year compared to 99,000 tons recorded a year earlier, spurred  by an expansion drive  embarked upon by the copper producer-bolstered by the more than US$2 billion injected into the local operations at Mufulira and Nkana mines on the Copperbelt.

Glencore  Xstrata  has raised over US$2 billion towards recapitalizing its operations in Zambia, Africa’s rich copper producer of which over US$320 million has been injected into the sinking of the deep mine project, the synclinorium, to boost the company’s copper outturn as one of the country’s leading producer of the red metal as well as cobalt.

The sinking of the shaft expected to be operational by 2015, will elongate the lifespan of the Nkana mine in Kitwe-an old mining town; by 25-30 years with access to 115 million tons of the copper ore and this will further create over 3,000 additional jobs for the local people according to its chief executive officer Danny Callow.

Additionally, MCM, in its quest to remain competitive as one of Zambia’s leading producer of copper and cobalt has invested in the expansion and upgrading its cobalt plant  at a value of  $27million to ostensibly double the current production capacity to 7,000 tons from  an estimated  2,800 tons by next year.

Mopani Copper Mine forecasts to invest over US$300 million in completing the final phase of the smelter at its more than 80-year-old Mufulira mine and assist capture over 98 percent of the sulphur dioxide (senta) emissions that has remained a menace to the local people since the inception of the mines.

The captured gases is anticipated to be rechanneled into the acid plant to make the substance that will assist in copper production and cut down the cost incurred in procuring the product for mining operations including ore leaching in Mufulira west.

According to Mopani, the company has spent over US$2.4 billion to date in upgrading the Mufulira smelter and various operations at its units including various corporate social responsibilities which have seen communities become self-reliant, both in health and general welfare of the people where the company operates and surrounding areas stated chairman, Emmanuel Mutati.

Brief history:

The mine has been in operation since 1932. On March 31, 2000, Mopani Copper Mines plc, a joint-venture company comprising First Quantum Minerals (44 percent) and Glencore International (46 percent) acquired the Nkana mine and have produced about six-million tons of copper, which is the company’s main product line mined underground.

Mopani Copper Mine has copper reserves (underground) estimated at 69-million tons grading 2, 26 copper, 0, 14 percent cobalt; 1, 6-million tons copper; 98 000 tons cobalt. Resources (including reserves): 195-million tons grading 2, 18% copper, 0, 15 percent cobalt or; 4, 3-million tons copper, 300 000 tons cobalt, the company said on its website.

Geology:  Copper and cobalt mineralisation occur within the ore shale. Copper mineralisation in the deposits changes from mostly chalcopyrite in the South ore body, to chalcopyrite-bornite in the Central area and to bornite-chalcopyrite at Mindola. Cobalt occurs as carrollite and cobaltiferous pyrite in about equal proportions.

Major infrastructure and equipment: The mine produces copper and cobalt from three sources: Mindola Shaft, Central Shaft and South Ore body Shaft.

Vertical crater retreat is the predominant mining method, while sub-level open-stopping and sublevel-caving methods are also used. Other metallurgical facilities, under a management contract by an affiliate of the Anglo American group, include the Nkana smelter, acid plant and copper refinery.


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