Zambia had granted environmental approval to Canadian group First Quantum Minerals for a planned 300 000 tons a year copper smelter, the country’s environmental management agency said yesterday. First Quantum applied in July for approval for the $640 million (R6 billion) smelter at its Kansanshi mine licence area in the Solwezi, about 600km north-west of Lusaka. The facility would smelt copper concentrate to produce blister copper as a product and granulated slag as waste, it said. “The developer shall conduct radiation tests to ensure that the concentrate that shall be processed is free of uranium at all times,” the environmental agency said. The project has a projected lifespan of more than 20 years and the total anticipated workforce during the operation stage is 800. – Reuters