Copper output in Zambia, Africa’s second-biggest producer of the metal, could fall this year compared with 2014, following a row with mining companies over taxes, Mines Minister Christopher Yaluma said on Friday. Zambia’s copper production dropped to 708 000 tons in 2014 from 760 000 tons in 2013. “I am not very optimistic that we can beat last year’s production,” Yaluma said. Zambia’s decision to increase royalties for open-pit mines to 20 percent from 6 percent and those for underground mines to 8 percent from 6 percent in January met with an outcry from unions and producers, forcing the government to review the plan. Zambia’s government has since cut mineral royalties. – Reuters