Vedanta Resources is currently planning on doubling its copper production in Zambia. Deshnee Naidoo, chief executive of the Indian company’s Zambian division said that the company is aiming to produce 200,000 tonnes of the red metal this financial year. He said that this will be a great improvement from last year’s 100,000 tonnes and on track to the projected 400,000 tonnes of copper annually over the next few years.
Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has open-pit and underground mines in the north of Zambia, and has seen significant investment since 2004. The projected increase to 400,000 tonnes per year would represent a massive jump for the company in its Zambian operations. It also denotes significant growth of the company which were producing only 41,000 tonnes a year a decade ago.
The mines produced 91,000 tonnes in the previous financial year. This is a 3% decrease from 2016. Production at KCM has fluctuated over the years, clocking in at 159,000 tonnes in the 2013 financial year. According to the company, the US $1Bn investment announced early last year will be utilized to achieve this.
At the time, the company said the funds would be going towards setting up a new copper smelter and cobalt refinery as well as upgrading infrastructure across the mines controlled by KCM. The upgrade of the Konkola Deep mining project is aimed at exploiting mineralization below the existing operations by sinking a new 1,500-meter mine shaft. The project is estimated to create 7000 job opportunities.
According to media reports, the company is looking to spend US $300m on a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Zambia. This will likely power KCM’s energy-intensive operations. Furthermore, prefeasibility studies for the plant have commenced.
Naidoo also provided an update on Vedanta’s big plans for its South African zinc operations in Northern Cape Province. Here, the company is contemplating a zinc-smelting refinery and an additional investment of between US $700 and US $800m at its Gamsberg operations. Moreover, the company is actively exploring an additional power plant to support the zinc-mining and smelting facilities.