Glencore’s Zambia unit to start new copper mine

[] — A unit of Swiss company Glencore International AG will develop an open pit copper mine in Zambia after authorities approved its proposal for the project, a government agency said.

The Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) said it had approved a project proposal by Mopani Copper Mines (MCM), majority owned by Glencore, to develop an open pit mine in the Mindola ore body in Kitwe, 330 km north of Lusaka.

The Mindolo ore body, one of Zambia’s oldest mining sites, is located within the Nkana mine, which together with Mufulira copper mine and Mufulira smelter, are operated by Mopani.

“Mopani intends to develop an open pit mining operation with the intention of mining approximately 260,000 tonnes of ore at a copper grade of 4.22 percent,” the ECZ said in a statement seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

The ECZ gave no indication of the total cathode copper Mopani would produce at Mindolo, but said the open pit would cover an area of about six hectares within the company’s mining licence area.

“The waste dump, an area of 15 hectares and a small area of approximately 1 hectare will be required for offices, workshop and transfer of ore stockpile,” the ECZ said.

Under Zambian law, mining firms must first seek the approval of the ECZ before they can start producing copper.

Mopani was Zambia’s second largest copper producer before new mines with higher output like Lumwana mine, owned by Equinox Minerals Ltd and Kansanshi mine, a unit of Canada’s First Qunatum Minerals came on stream last year.

The largest copper producer in this southern African country of 12 million people is Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc.

Copper mining is Zambia’s economic lifeblood and the mines are a major employer in the country.