PRODUCTION at Zambia’s Konkola Deep copper mine has ground to a halt owing to a lack of development capital, said Bloomberg News citing Barnaby Mulenga, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines.
The mine was previously operated by Vedanta, but it was seized by the Zambian government in 2019 amid allegations the Indian diversified mining firm had failed to meet investment promises and paid too little tax.
One of the other assets held by Vedanta before it was taken over by the government, Konkola Copper Mines, was also suffering the effects of capital starvation. Production from the mine had been “curbed”, said the newswire.
Vedanta was quoted as saying it was “saddened” by the developments. But Mulenga was confident operations would resume in order to benefit from the improvement in the copper price which surged through $10,000/t again this week, scaling levels of a decade ago.
“This demand for copper will only get higher and the sooner these issues are resolved there is still an opportunity to exploit this resource,” Mulenga said. “This is a giant which is sleeping and we remain positive that it will be mined at some point.”
Mulenga said KCM’s current challenges result from Vedanta failing to complete underground works that would have allowed more ore to be extracted from Konkola Deep. The flagship mine in Zambia’s Copperbelt requires most of the $1.2bn needed to turn KCM around, he told Bloomberg News.