Konkola Copper Mines saw production improvement at its Konkola Deep Mine and the Nchanga open pit, with integrated production up 9% for the quarter ended June 30 – the first quarter of its 2018 financial year.
Mined metal production was up by 35% quarter-on-quarter to 20 000 t during the period.
This was as a result of improvement in equipment availability at the Konkola mine, increased throughput at the Nchanga operations and an improvement in tailings leach plant (TLP) availability.
Fleet availability at the Konkola mine further improved to 53% in the current quarter, compared with 23% in the previous quarter.
Productivity improvements at the Nchanga open pits, in addition to concentrator plant availability of 88% and TLP availability of 86%, led to integrated production of 8 000 t in June, with the trend having continued into July.
Mined metal production was, however, 30% lower year-on-year, mainly as a result of lower equipment availability at Konkola mine and availability at TLP compared with last year.
This has now improved significantly, according to Vedanta.
Custom volumes were 56% higher year-on-year to 27 000 t, owing to improved third-party concentrate availability and the company’s ability to handle feed rates greater than 70 t/h at the smelter, following the biennial shutdown during the third quarter of the 2017 financial year.
Custom volumes, however, fell by 17% quarter-on-quarter as a result of relatively lower availability of local concentrate.
Vedanta CEO Tom Albanese noted in a statement released on Wednesday that Vedanta was working to optimise costs at its Zambia copper operations.
Vedanta further reported that Phase 1 of the elevated temperature leaching project targeted at improving TLP recoveries is under stabilisation, with the company in the process of appointing an engineering consultant for Phase 2.
Meanwhile, construction of the heap leach pilot test pads is progressing well, with commissioning expected before the third quarter of the current financial year.
Further, preliminary proposals have been received on the cobalt project and the identification of an offtake and techno-economic partner through a request for proposal-led process is under way.
This is expected to be completed before the third quarter of the 2018 financial year.
Water levels at the Kariba dam are also improving and currently sit at 56%, compared with 34% in the previous year.
Power cuts in the country have been stopped; however, the force majeure declared by State-owned power supply company Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation and Copperbelt Energy Corporation continues.
Meanwhile, Vedanta expects its integrated production to reach 95 000 t to 110 000 t for the full year, while custom smelting production is expected to be between 80 000 t and 90 000 t.