After a decade-long delay, work on First Quantum Minerals’ Sulphide No. 3 (S3) expansion project at Kansanshi Mine is now back on track.
The project is expected to create almost 2,000 jobs at its peak, and FQM is taking steps to make the project more productive, efficient and environmentally friendly by using diesel-electric mining equipment and embedding design and engineering improvements into the S3 Process Plant, based on learnings from Sentinel and Cobre Panama.
Kansanshi Mine General Manager Anthony Mukutuma said that the mining firm has bolstered its fleet with the addition of the first of forty-one (41) Hitachi EH4000 diesel electric dump truck (Fleet # RD170) that has just been commissioned on the mine site.
Speaking during the commissioning of the first EH4000 dump truck, Mr Mukutuma explained that the Hitachi EH4000 dump truck is a diesel electric truck with a payload capacity of 220 metric tonnes and that four more dump trucks are already being assembled on site and are part of the 41 trucks FQM is buying to ramp up production at the Kansanshi mine.
“FQM is taking steps to improve the environmental performance of the project by using diesel-electric mining equipment. This is considered a priority for us from both an ESG (environmental, social, and governance) and a productivity point of view.
The company is also optimistic about the economic benefits that the S3 expansion is expected to bring to Zambia. The project will create jobs, generate tax revenue, and boost the local economy. I am confident that the project is a success for all stakeholders,” he said.
Mr Mukutuma announced that the mine commission and deploy 2-3 giant dump trucks per month for the next 12 months, marking a significant milestone in the S3 expansion project. He also said that construction of the process plant is underway and that all necessary equipment has been purchased.
“As a company, we are pleased with this investment, as it will help us achieve our goal of increasing copper production to between 260,000 and 280,000 metric tonnes per year from 2025,” he continued.
FQM anticipates that at its height, the project will generate employment for almost 2,000 engineers and tradespeople. This number will decline as construction is finalised and the project goes into operation in early 2025.
FQM’s investment in S3 is one of its largest so far. As Kansanshi Mine’s annual copper output was projected to decrease with declining grades, to about 150kt per year, this expansion will extend its life to over two decades and will contribute towards the Zambian government’s goal of producing 3 million metric tonnes of copper by 2030.
Plans for the S3 Expansion were halted in in 2013 due to adverse and inconsistent fiscal conditions. However, in May 2022, FQM announced an investment of US$1.25 billion towards the expansion of the Kansanshi Mine, which includes expansion of the smelter, process plant, and mining fleet, as part of the S3 project.
The economic impacts of the successful completion of this ambitious project are expected to be far-reaching, with increases in tax contributions, direct and indirect job opportunities, and more spending on goods and services by both employees and suppliers, which will boost both local and national economies.