Zambia's Mopani sees copper output at 170,000 T in 5 years

LUSAKA, June 19 Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:40am EDT

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LUSAKA, June 19 (Reuters) - Zambia's Mopani Copper Mines owned by Glencore Xstrata Plc plans to raise annual copper output to 170,000 tonnes from 120,000 tonnes within five years after investing in new projects and upgrades, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Zambia, Africa's top copper producer, needs private investments to raise its annual copper production to about 1.5 million tonnes by 2016.

Mopani CEO Danny Callow said at a mining and energy conference the projects included a new shaft in which $323 million would be invested and the upgrade of a copper smelter at a cost of $145 million.

The new shaft would extend the life of Mopani's Nkana mine by 20-30 years and secure 3,000 jobs that would have been lost as a result of closure of mines starting in 2015, he said.

"Apart from securing the 3,000 jobs, the new shaft will provide Mopani with access to some 115 million tonnes of ore at a grade of 1.9 percent copper," he added.

Mopani had invested about $2 billion in capital projects in Zambia and expected to continue operating in the country for a long time, Callow said.

Callow said increasing costs of energy, especially electricity posed a threat to the continued growth of the mining sector in Zambia.

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