JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Konnoco Zambia, the joint-venture (JV) company owned by South Africa-based African Rainbow Minerals (Arm) and Brazilian miner Vale, has started construction on the $380-million Konkola North copper mine project.
The JV partners on Friday announced that they viewed the project as an early development for a copper growth strategy in Africa.
The mine, which will have a design throughput of 2,5-million tons a year of ore to yield 45 000 t/y of contained copper in concentrate, was Arm’s first venture on the African continent outside South Africa.
“The new copper mine that we are building in Zambia with our partner Vale is significant because it adds a new exciting commodity to our diverse commodity portfolio and is also our first investment in Africa,” said Arm chairperson Patrice Motsepe.
Arm would house the project under a new division, Arm Copper.
The concentrator plant at Konkola North would be commissioned within the next 27 months, with the project expected to reach full production by 2015.
The mine has an expected life of 28 years, but the JV partners have started a further three-year exploration programme on an additional exploration area that could potentially double output at the mine to 100 000 t/y of copper in concentrate.
Last year, Arm CEO Andre Wilkens indicated that the group would aim to produce at least 100 000 t/y of copper in five years.
Arm already mines coal, manganese, iron-ore, platinum, nickel and chrome and sees copper as a “very good commodity” to be in.
Zambia’s largest mineworkers union has previously indicated that it would try to block the Konkola North development, because of concerns about Vale’s labour relations record.