Zambia is aiming to produce 3 million tons of copper per annum within a decade from 830 000 tons currently, the Zambian Minister of Mines and Minerals Development, Paul Kabuswe, told an audience at this year’s African Mining Indaba 2024 in Cape Town on Monday.
“Mining currently accounts for 12% of GDP, 70% of foreign exchange earnings and 30% of government earnings, but we aim to expand copper mining substantially in the next decade as Zambia is open for business and investors are rushing in,” he said.
KoBold Metals said yesterday in an announcement in the “Financial Times” that it had found Zambia’s largest copper deposit in a century. It said the Mingomba project was likely to become one of the world’s top three high-grade copper mines.
In addition, First Quantum is expanding its Kansanshi mine in its S3 project, which should start production in 2025. Currently, it operates two open pits that together produce more copper than any other mine in Africa. It was on care-and-maintenance in the early 1970s, but by using state-of-the-art technology it is able to extract copper and gold from three different ore types, with world-class efficiency.
The US government is backing the development of the Lobito railway, a line to transport metals in the region connecting the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia to the Lobito port in Angola, but Zambia is also looking to link with Namibia and use Walvis Bay, while it is reviving the Tazara railway that links it with Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Copper, which is widely used in construction and industry, is expected to undergo a boom in demand as it is heavily used in power transmission lines, electric vehicles and wind turbines, so there would be a ready market for the additional Zambian copper production.
Copper mining has been a vital industry in Zambia since the early 20th century, attracting investments from both domestic and international mining companies, and Kabuswe emphasised Zambia’s peaceful and stable policy environment, with the Second Republic having seen seven peaceful transitions in government.
Speaking at the opening ceremony at this year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said Zambia was ready to power the future.
“This year, Zambia comes to you with a new message: invest with confidence and power the future. We reiterate our government’s commitment to making Zambia a reliable investment partner of choice on the African continent,” he said.
This investment in the future included the Lumwana super pit project that is on on track for first production in 2028.
Zambia is also undertaking a nationwide geological mapping exercise to provide accurate data for exploring new mineral resources or deposits, which would allow it to diversify away from copper and include minerals such as diamonds, gold, graphite, lithium and manganese.