Zambia’s copper mining projected to hit 1 million tonnes by 2026 amidst mines expansions

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The copper mining in Zambia has been projected to grow to about 1 million tonnes by 2026 owing to the mines expansions being witnessed in the country.

According to Zambia’s Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane, the growth is triggered by investment in expanding production at mines including those owned by First Quantum Minerals.

Production could also receive a boost from Mopani Copper Mines, which recently secured a new investor, and the revival of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) following the resolution of an ownership dispute with Indian miner Vedanta Resources.

“The two mining giants, Mopani and KCM, were previously out of the equation, but now they are back,” Musokotwane said during an interview on Lusaka-based radio station.

Copper production, crucial for Zambia’s economic growth, has been gradually declining in Africa’s second-largest producer of the metal, despite government targets to increase output to about 3 million tons within the decade.

Copper output fell to 698,000 tons in 2023, down from 763,000 tons the previous year, according to data from the Zambia Chamber of Mines.

Ongoing investments to expand output at First Quantum’s Kansanshi mine are also expected to boost metal production, Musokotwane noted.

Canadian competitor Barrick Gold announced last year it would invest around $2 billion to increase production at its Lumwana mine in Zambia to approximately 240,000 tons of copper by 2028.

The United Arab Emirates’ International Resources Holding (IRH) committed to a $1.1 billion investment to expand output at Mopani mines after acquiring a 51% stake in the copper assets previously owned by Glencore.

Zambia also anticipates that new investments will revitalize mining activities at KCM, following an ownership dispute with Vedanta that nearly halted operations since 2019, when the previous government attempted to seize the assets.

“By the end of 2025 to 2026, our copper production will exceed one million tons,” said Musokotwane.

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