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First Quantum Minerals eyes $900m Zambia expansion

15 june 2011, 18:21
Aerial view of an Equinox copper mine in Lumwana, Zambia. ©Reuters
Aerial view of an Equinox copper mine in Lumwana, Zambia. ©Reuters
First Quantum Minerals wants to invest $900 million in a seven-year expansion programme at Zambia's Kansanshi Mining, an official said before a mining conference Wednesday, AFP reports.

The scheme would include setting up a $500 million smelter expected to produce at least 1.2 million tonnes of copper concentrates per year, said Sean Whittome, the general manager for Kansanshi Mining.

"We are spending $900 million (624 million euros) for the expansion programme for the next seven years," Whittome told reporters Tuesday in the North-Western provincial capital of Solwezi.

"We are currently carrying out a feasibility study for the smelter and we expect the board to give a go-ahead by October," Whittome said.

The Canadian miner is Zambia's largest copper producer with a workforce of more than 5,000 employees, producing 231,000 tonnes of copper last year, according to Whittome.

Zambia is Africa's largest producer of copper, the main driver of the economy.

Rapid expansion in mining is expected to keep the economy growing by an average 6.4 percent a year up to 2014, which would place it among the world's best performers.

Last year Zambia produced about 750,000 tonnes of copper, but output is predicted to more than double to 2.0 million tonnes in 2015 as new mines open and existing mines expand.

On Wednesday, Zambia will open its first International Mining and Energy Conference to showcase the industry to investors, who are also keen to tap the country's cobalt reserves.

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