The capacity of Zambia’s existing three copper smelters is insufficient to process the increased volumes of concentrate produced by the country’s copper mines, even with a new 1,2 million tonne per annum smelter comes on line.
Canadian-based mining company First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi copper mine, in the north-west province of Zambia, has accumulated stockpiles of more than 200 000 tonnes of copper concentrate, worth about US$ 350-million dollars, which will be reduced only when the new smelter at Kansanshi starts operating later this year.
According to First Quantum CEO Matt Pascal, it is the largest single copper smelter ever built. “Even once the smelter is commissioned later this year and goes into full production during the next couple of years, there will still be too much concentrate in Zambia for the smelting capacity. As a result a new smelter expansion project is already on the cards,” he says.