Mining Expert Cryton Phiri says the country is ill-prepared to attain the 3 million metric tons annual copper production due to unresolved challenges facing the country’s two biggest mines Mopani and Konkola Copper Mines.
The new dawn administration has targeted to increase Copper production from the current 830,000 metric tonnes to 3 million per year in the next ten years.
Dr Phiri said the unresolved issues prevailing at Mopani and Konkola Copper Mines are of serious concern because they are affecting Copper production in the country.
He said there is a need for the country to engage in more exploration works to ensure that the country has correct data on how much Copper the country has in its reserves.
Yesterday, Zambia’s annual copper production continued to drop with the latest figures showing a 4.6 percent drop in production figures as of quarter 3 of 2022.
According to the Ministry Of Mines figures made available to phoenix news by the Zambia chamber of mines chief executive officer Sokwani Chilembo, the country produced a total of 565, 806.9 tons of copper between January and September 2022 compared to a total of 593, 500.42 tons for the same period in 2021.
This 4.6 percent drop in copper production figures represents a total reduction of 27,693.52 tons for the period January 2022 to September 2022 as compared to the same period last year.
Mr. Chilembo has attributed this sustained drop in production figures, to a diversity of operating and supply chain issues including heavy rains in the northwest and floods in Kwazulu natal of South Africa, that are continually impacting the mining supply chains.
The 2022 reduced production level in the mining sector is against the Zambian government’s resolve to increase productivity in the sector with a national target of 3 million metric tons of annual copper production within 10 years.
And this week, the government said that it was urgently working around the clock to ensure that the KCM and Mopani Copper Mines issues are resolved as urgently as possible. Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Paul Kabuswe says discussions with the necessary stakeholders to find an amicable solution are already underway.
Addressing a media briefing in Lusaka , where he refuted recent media reports suggesting that he is about give a final statement regarding the two mining firms , Mr. Kabuswe said it is too early to state a final position.
“As to how the talks have progressed, I think it will be unfair on both ZCCM-IH, who is ourselves as Government and also Vedanta to prematurely bring out anything when the talks have not reached a level where we can tell the nation where we are,” he said.
Government is eager to see to it that the two mines contribute towards the three million metric tonnes of copper target that has been set for the next decade. Mr Kabuswe said the two mines need to deliver optimal production levels.
The Minister of Mines and Minerals Development said government is working closely with management for both mines to ensure that no worker loses employment.
And the Minister dismissed reports that Reliant Mining, a contractor at KCM will soon halt operations. Mr Kabuswe said it is not true that the firm will prune all the workers and shut down..
“It is an unfounded rumour, the truth of the matter is that reliant, is still a contractor at KCM and their contract has actually been extended,” he said.
Mopani Copper Mines is currently on care and maintenance while KCM is in liquidation. President Hakainde Hichilema has previously pledged that his Government will resolve the impasse regarding the two mines.