Copper production to remain flat

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BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes

ZAMBIA’S copper production for this year is expected to be flat because the mines have not imported concentrate from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this year due to change in the fiscal regime.

This is according to the Zambia Chamber of Mines chief executive officer, Sokwani Chilembo.

Industry figures show that Zambian copper production is currently at around 800 000 tonnes.

Mr Chilembo explained that not having that high-grade sulphide ore from DRC to blend in with the domestic concentrate had also led to inefficiencies.

He told the Mining Weekly magazine recently that, “our initial forecast was that we would see a moderate increase in production this year, but things have evolved a lot faster than expected. We expect production to be flat at best, judging by the way this first quarter has gone.

“Because of the new import duty there have been no concentrate imports from the DRC this year. Its reduced exports. And, in cases like Chambishi Metals, they have had to go on care and maintenance as a result.”

The first thing Zambia needed to do, Mr Chilembo said, was to come to a reasonable compromise on the fiscal regime.

Mr Chilembo further said if the industry’s power requirements grew, that automatically made the energy sector more bankable because the mines were Government’s biggest client.

“We need to enable the industry to go out and secure financing for its operations, and to convince its own institutional investors and boards that this jurisdiction will be stable.

“We need a clearly defined way in which we can enable the growth of production and guarantee growth in government tax revenue. If we get this right, we will see significant FDI coming here for the opening of one or two new medium tier mines,” Mr Chilembo said.

And Teck Resources limited, a Canadian mine chief executive officer, Don Lindsay said, “We know that the future of a modern, efficient digital world is copper. But, without proper planning, the future will escape Zambia.

“In order to ensure that Zambia doesn’t spend the next decade catching up on the back end of the super cycle, policies need to be realigned with growth as a goal without delay.”

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