By Oscar Nkala
The Zambian government has set itself an ambitious annual copper production target of 1 million tonnes in 2018 following a steady upsurge in production throughout 2017.
Mines and Minerals Development ministry Permanent Secretary Paul Chanda said the projected increase came on the back of the stabilisation of previously erratic power supplies to the mines in 2017.
“We actually hit 800,000 tonnes last year and we anticipate, with certainty, that we are going to reach 1 million tonnes, if not more, this year,” Chanda said.
Apart from the stabilisation of power supplies, the upsurge in copper production is driven by increased international demand for the metal, which is a key component in the manufacture of new-generation electric cars.
Chanda said high demand was one of the big incentives that would keep attract more mining companies to invest in copper exploration and mine development projects in Zambia.
Key projects expected to start operating and boost production in 2018 include a new shaft at Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) and mine expansion by China Non-Ferrous Africa Mining (NFCA).
Earlier assessments by the Bank of Zambia had placed the 2018 annual copper output estimate at 786 731 tonnes. Until mid-2017, the Zambian mining industry operating environment was characterised by erratic power supplies, which slashed productivity.