Zambia aims for copper output of 900,000 tons in 2021 after “a historical high” in 2020

Richard Musukwa, mines minister, Zambia

ZAMBIA aimed to produce more than 900,000 tons of copper this year, said Reuters citing the southern African country’s mines minister, Richard Musukwa.

Musukwa said that longer term, the country could top a million tons in production of the red metal considered crucial as global industry decarbonised.

His comments come amid government data showing production at 882,061 tons last year, an increase of 10.8% from 796,430 tons in 2019, said Reuters. Musukwa said this number was “a historical high”.

A worldwide shift to electric cars, which use much more copper than cars using traditional combustion engines, is expected to boost production of the metal, Musukwa said. “The prospects for the mining sector look positive despite Covid-19 Mus,” he said.

Copper was discovered in Zambia in the late 19th century, and in the 1950s the Zambian copper belt dominated global production of the metal, said Reuters.

Zambia’s cobalt production, however, fell 21.8% in 2020, to 287 tons from the 367 tons produced in 2019. Musukwa put that drop down to reduced cobalt mineralisation and operational challenges at Konkola Copper Mine.

Gold production fell to 3,579 kg in 2020 from 3,913 kg in 2019 as ore grades at the Kansanshi mine fell, the minister said in a statement.

State-owned Zambia Gold Company, which buys and processes gold from artisanal and small-scale miners, sold 47.9 kg of gold to the Bank of Zambia at the end of last year as part of efforts to build the country’s gold reserves. The company started producing gold in May last year.

“I wish to commend the company for a job well done,” Musukwa said.

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