By ALICE NACHILEMBE
Lubambe Copper Mines has completed the US $750 million extension project.
This will see the mine’s production increased to 235 metric tonnes of copper and cobalt ore per year there extending mine’s life span to 30 years.
Lubambe Copper Mines Chief Executive Officer Nick Bowen said the expanded mine contains an estimated 8.5 million tonnes of copper making it world class.
Mr Bowen said the grade at the extended mine is good compared to other mines.
He said the average grade at the extended mine is about 3.65% of Copper with 0.05% presence of cobalt there giving the mine further opportunity for growth.
Mr Bowen said the 4% of copper grade is good for business because most mines operate under 1%.
He was speaking when Mines Minister Richard Musukwa had visited the mines.
Mr Bowen said the new ore body is located about 6km South of the existing mine, at the depths of over 1000m and is contained on Lubambe’s existing 228 sq kilometer Mining License.
He said Lubambe has completed an advanced concept study which outlines the development of a new mine.
Mr Bowen said the extension Project will involve sinking of new shafts and conveyor declines, developing a new underground mine with initial production of 90,000 tonne of copper (in concentrate) and then expanding to 160,000 tonnes (in concentrate).
He said the new mine has an initial mine life of 30 years with further exploration expected to provide many more years of life Lubambe.
“Our extension project is currently the highest grade, largest undeveloped copper resource in the world. Today we have had a very productive discussions with Government about how we will work together to bring this billion dollar project to realization. There is another two years of detailed studies, design and approval processes to get us ready for construction.
“The current plans are to commence construction in 2023 and bring the new mine into production in 2028. The benefits of this extension project will extend the life of Lubambe past 2050, multi-billion dollar capital investment, creation of approximately 3500 jobs for Zambians from construction phase to production, opportunities for Zambians and Local suppliers. At project execution, approach will be to source as much equipment and materials as possible from Zambia,” he said.
He said Lubambe’s CSR Programmes under the extension Project will continue to focus on four key areas of agriculture, infrastructure, education and Health.
The CEO said the project will contribute to the country’s economic growth through payment of mineral royalties and corporate tax.
While the next steps are to progress the pre-feasibility of the new Lubambe extension project and obtain necessary technical and environmental approvals from Government and other key stakeholders.
Mr Bowen said this is an opportunity to work together to ensure this world class mine can be approved and constructed in the shortest time possible.
And Mr Musukwa told Lubambe and its board including ZCCM-HI to start expediting the process of approval to ensure that the building the mine of this magnitude commences.
Mr Musukwa said that a huge revenue will be added to tax portfolio that is why government through Zambia Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Finance would ensure that the mine is given approvals and necessary undertakings.
He pledged Government’s support to see that Lubambe operations and other mining operations across the country continue beyond the circumstances with corona virus.
Mr Musukwa said that mining remain Zambia’s comparative advantage and it must ensure that under any circumstances it must survive.
He urged the mine management to ensure that under this new normal they put up all the health regulations and measures to ensure that operations go on.
The Minister commended management at Lubambe for ensuring that the operation continue under this circumstances.
Mr Musukwa urged Lubambe management to continue building the team to ensure that that production is increased.
The mine has also put up three mine rescuer teams who gave a demonstration to the ministers delegation.