By NANCY MWAPE
GLENCORE International Plc’s local subsidiary, Mopani Copper Mine, has pumped US$323 million into sinking a synclinorium shaft in Kitwe, which will create an additional 500 jobs and extend the mine’s lifespan by another 25 years.
With the sinking of the 1,272-metre deep shaft, the company will create more jobs to add to the existing 8,000 direct jobs and another 8,000 more indirect jobs. Its current lifespan is about 20 years.
Mopani Copper Mine chairman Emmanuel Mutati disclosed this when he met Zambia Daily Mail management in Lusaka and updated the newspaper on the operations of the company in Zambia.
The company is operating four mines in Kitwe, producing about 3.5 million tonnes of copper ore which may rise to about 5 million tonnes by 2018 after concluding the sinking of the new shaft.
“If we did not do anything [sink shaft], production would have dropped to 1.6 million tonnes of copper ore per year by 2015…when production falls to below 50 percent of your optimum levels…you might as well close because your fixed costs become so high that you won’t be able to make a profit,” he said.
Parallel to the synclinorium shaft, Mopani is also sinking a 1,180m deep vent shaft to improve ventilation in the mine.
Mr Mutati said the new shaft area contains about 115 metric tonnes of copper ore with grades of 1.9 percent total copper and 0.09 percent of cobalt.
He said this will result in the production of four million metric tonnes of copper ore per annum by 2018.
Commenting on development in Mufulira, Mr Mutati said Mopani has invested US$213 million in the construction of a new smelter and an acid plant which is expected to capture 97 percent of sulphur dioxide emissions by December.
He said the acid produced from the plant is used within the mine while the rest is sold to Kansanshi and two of Glencore’s subsidiaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mr Mutati said the mine in Mufulira produces about 2 million tonnes of copper ore, which is about the best in the world.
Mopani is owned by Glencore (73.1 percent), First Quantum (16.9 percent) and Government (10 percent).
Zambia is Africa’s top copper producer which depends 80 percent on copper ore for its foreign currency receipts.
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