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Zambia sets sights on one million ton increase in copper production by 2026

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Zambia’s Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane announced on Friday that the country’s copper production could reach approximately one million tons by 2026. This surge is expected to be driven by investments aimed at expanding production in various mines, including those owned by First Quantum Minerals.

Despite being Africa’s second-largest producer of copper, Zambia has seen a gradual decline in production levels in recent years. However, the government is targeting a significant increase in output to around three million tons within the next decade.

In 2023, copper output in Zambia fell to 698,000 tons from 763,000 tons the previous year, according to data from the Zambia Chamber of Mines.

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The revival of Mopani Copper Mines, which recently secured a new investor, and the resolution of the ownership dispute with Indian miner Vedanta Resources regarding Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) are expected to contribute to the increase in production.

Musokotwane highlighted the return of these two mining giants, Mopani and KCM, stating, “The two mining giants were out of the equation, now they are back,” during an interview on Lusaka-based radio station Radio Phoenix.

Additionally, ongoing investments in expanding output at First Quantum’s Kansanshi mine are anticipated to support the rise in copper production. Canadian company Barrick Gold is also investing approximately $2 billion to increase output at its Lumwana mine to around 240,000 tons of copper by 2028.

Furthermore, International Resources Holding (IRH) from the United Arab Emirates has pledged $1.1 billion to expand production at Mopani mines after acquiring a 51% stake in the copper assets previously owned by Glencore.

The Zambian government is optimistic that these fresh investments will lead to increased mining activities at KCM following the resolution of the ownership dispute with Vedanta, which had disrupted operations since 2019.

With these developments, Musokotwane expects Zambia to surpass the one-million-ton mark in copper production by the end of 2025 to 2026.

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