Zambia’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), which is owned by Indian mining major Vedanta Resources, has temporarily suspended operations at its Nchanga smelter, in Zambia.
However, the company reports that efforts to resume operations at the smelter – which is experienc- ing difficulties – are in progress.
The company adds that it is seeking alternative processing options as it cannot afford to be out of production for a sustained period.
The Nchanga smelter processes 311 000 t/y of copper.
Meanwhile, Vedanta Resources says KCM management and employees should consolidate the gains achieved in 2010 in the building of the flagship Konkola Deep Mining Project (KDMP), in an effort to bring the project on stream as scheduled.
CEO Mahendra Singh Mehta says that there is need to ensure that KCM maintains its superior safety standards and maximises current production gains to achieve increased productivity. The KDMP is aimed at expanding the production of copper ore at Konkola mine from two-million tons a year to 7,5-million tons a year by accessing the rich orebody that lies beneath current operations.
This involves the sinking of a new mine shaft to a depth of about 1 500 m. In addition, the project involves the deepening of existing shafts, as well as the sinking of three new ventilation shafts, one dewatering shaft and the construction of a new pump chamber. Phase I of this project has been launched and midshaft loading is currently under way. Further, a modern concentrator is being built to handle the additional ore that will be produced at Konkola.
Mehta adds that the company needs to mobilise additional equipment to expedite the project, which is expected to place KCM among major global copper producers.
“This project is Konkola’s pride – it is Zambia’s pride. It’s a very important and exciting project,” says Mehta.
KCM, which intends to raise finished copper production to 400 000 t/y, is currently developing the project to help shore up output.
Mehta says KCM should also focus on ensuring higher recoveries of copper to boost productivity.