Most of Africa’s copper production comes from Zambia, DRC and South Africa. Reductions in production have come from South African and Namibia (in particular). After finally concluding the long awaited privatization of Zambia’s Copperbelt, it is faced with a fresh crises following the withdrawal of one of the largest investors, Anglo American. The future of Zambia’s copperbelt now rests (once again) to a large extent, in the hands of the Zambian Government. However, other smaller foreign and African mining companies continue to rehabilitate other parts of ZCCM. Copper production from the DRC is set to be boosted following the resurrection of many world class projects.
Palaborwa is South Africa’s largest copper producer. Its sales represent 2.4% of SA’s total mineral output and account for 75% of SA’s total copper output. The opencast operation, one of the largest of its type in the world, has a pit life at current production figures until 2002, thereafter underground mining will extend the life of the mine another 20 years. Other copper producers are the old Gold Fields Copper operations in Namaqualand, which have been taken over by the junior mining and exploration company, Metorex. Platinum mining operations also produce copper as a by-product.
Zambia has world class copper – cobalt deposits situated in an arc stretching along the border between Zambia and the DRC. Despite the fact that the privatisation of the copperbelt is complete, Zambia’s copper production continues to decline. The country produced 330 000t of copper in 2001, representing a welcome increase from previous years. Production in 2003 and beyond is uncertain following the decision by Anglo American not to carry on funding its investment in ZCI, Zambia’s largest producer. Copper products provide 85% of Zambia’s foreign exchange and over 20% to GDP.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
Unfortunately, the last few years has seen the civil war in the DRC drag on, with additional military support coming from Zimbabwe and Namibia. The DRC was a major producer of copper and cobalt in the world. 2001 saw further declines, with an estimated 20 000t of copper being produced (all by the state owned Gecamines) and nearly 3 800t of cobalt.
Other producers in Africa are Zimbabwe, Morocco and Namibia. Zimbabwe produced just under 3 100t in 2001, representing a continuing decrease.
Mining Companies active
The Palaborwa operation is jointly owned by Rio Tinto (48%) and Anglo American 28%. This is Rio Tinto’s only copper operation in Africa.
Metorex has acquired several base metal mining operations in Southern Africa. The 100% acquisition in mid last year of the O’Okiep Copper mine in Namaqualand as well as awards of the Chibuluma copper cobalt mines and Nkana dumps in Zambia give Metorex a sound copper presence in Southern Africa. Other base metal investments include 89% control of the Antimony / Gold producer, Consolidated Murchison and 100% in base metal miner Maranda in South Africa as well as several established projects in Zambia (Copper), Ghana (Gold) and Burkina Faso (Zinc). Crew Development Corporation of Canada has a 50% interest in Metorex.
First Quantum Minerals operate the Bwana Mkuba copper mine in Zambia, its second mine after it’s gold operation in Zimbabwe. First Quantum and Glencore have acquired the Mufulira division and Nkana mines from ZCCM.
ZCCM’s debt problems (estimated to be around $600 million) and lengthy privatization efforts have caused a decrease in production. Final privatization of the remaining assets of ZCCM are being finalized, completing the revitalization of Zambia’s long ailing copper industry.
Anglovaal Minerals (Avmin) currently has a 90% interest in Chambishi Metals PLC that acquired the Chambishi Cobalt and Acid plants and the Nkana Slag Dumps (a 20+ million-ton surface cobalt and copper resource) on the Zambian Copperbelt. Avmin also has a 75% share in the Nkomati nickel mine, from where copper is produced as a by-product. Avmin also has extensive interests in chrome and Manganese through its subsidiary Assmang (Associated Manganese mines).
Anglo American has decided to write down its investments in the Copperbelt, a move seen as a major blow to Zambia’s copper industry.
Non-Ferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Corporation of China (NFC) participated in the privatisation of the Chambishi Mine from ZCCM.
The future of Gecamines continues to be uncertain despite a new CEO being appointed in George Forrest, who has extensive mining experience and is optimistic and considers a revision of the mining legislation is critical to the development of the DRC’s mining industry.
Tsumeb Corporation Limited (TCL) has suspended operations pending liquidation. TCL encompasses all mining operations (totaling 4 mines and the newly commissioned Aus smelter). Copper production, as a result, has dropped extensively from 60 t in 1998 down from 194 in 1997. The assets of TCL have been recentyl acquired by Ongopolo Mining and Processing (OMP), and production is anticipated in mid 2002
Most of Moroccan miming activities are controlled by the state owned Bureau de Recherché et de Particpiations Minieres (BRPM). These have been subsequently been wholly or partly privatized with sale of operations to former State partners, in copper’s case to Somifa who has obtained 34.2%. The BRPM-Ona also controls most of Morocco’s lead and zinc production.
Zimbabwe Mine Development Corporation (ZMDC) runs several smaller copper mines in Zimbabwe, who are under threat of closure, due to declining metal prices and lowering grades (under 1% copper).
Costamin Resources, Kingamyambo Musonoi Tailings, Luanshya Copper Mines Plc, The Balanced Scorecard Institute of South Africa, Universal Mining & Metal Industries Limited, ZCCM Investments Holdings Plc, African Eagle Resources plc., Anglo Base Metals, BCL Limited, Chambishi Metals Plc, Chibuluma Mines Plc Zambia, Copper Craft Ltd, Copper Development Association, (Pty) Ltd, Equinox Copper Ventures Ltd, Kababankola Mining Company ining, Kansanshi Mining Plc, Konkola Copper Mines, La Generale Des Carriers Et Des Mines, Letaba Copper & Zinc Corporation Ltd, Maranda Mining Company Pty Ltd ::[ View All ]
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