JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Zambian copper miner Mopani on Thursday announced board approval for a new $320-million shaft and associated infrastructure, to be constructed at its Synclinorium project.
The new shaft is expected to extend the life of the Nkana copper and cobalt mines by about 25 years, the Glencore subsidiary, in which First Quantum Minerals and ZCCM-IH hold minority stakes, said in a statement.
The new shaft would boost Nkana’s ore production to 5.1-million tons a year by 2018, from 3.4-million tons a year. Limited hoisting could start as early as 2015, Mopani said in a statement.
The development comprises a 7-m-diameter main shaft and a 6-m-diameter ventilation shaft, which will be sunk to a depth of 1 277 m, providing Mopani with access to about 115-million tons of ore, at grades of 1.9% copper and 0.09 % cobalt.
The investment would extend the Nkana operations to well beyond the current expected depletion dates for the existing reserves at Mindola north, the southern ore body and central shafts of 2015, 2017 and 2018 respectively, securing about 3 000 jobs.
CEO Emmanuel Mutati said that the Synclinorium project was a significant investment in the long-term future of the company and would help ensure that the miner maximised the value of Zambia's natural resources for decades to come.
“This will mean more revenue for the country and for our shareholders, and more jobs for the local community,” he said.
The project is expected to create about 500 temporary jobs during the construction and commissioning phases.