* The $2 bln project is Congo’s largest private investment
* In talks with govt after mining review faulted agreement
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LUBUMBASHI, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 21 (Reuters) - Freeport-McMoRan’s (FCX.N) copper and cobalt mine in Congo has reached production capacity and will exceed targets for 2010, the U.S.-listed miner told Reuters.
“We will exceed our plan and we have reached our capacity,” Richard Robinson, Social Programmes Manager at the Tenke Fungurume Mining (TFM) project told Reuters on the margins of a mining conference in Congo.
Freeport-McMoRan has a 57.75 percent share of the project, which has cost $2 billion to set up and is Congo’s largest private investment. State mining company Gecamines has 17.5 percent and Lundin Mining (LUN.TO) the remaining 24.75 percent.
Robinson earlier told the conference Tenke produced 29,000 tonnes of copper and 2,300 tonnes of cobalt in the first quarter of 2010, on track to break a year-end target of 115,000 tonnes of copper and 8,000 tonnes of cobalt.
The project, estimated to have reserves of 119 million tonnes with average ore grades of 2.6 percent copper and 0.4 percent cobalt, produced 70,000 tonnes of copper and 2,600 tonnes of cobalt in 2009. It reached full production in October last year after testing began in March.
Robinson said the project paid $234 million in taxes to the government since construction started in 2006 to the end of March 2010, including $29 million for the first quarter of 2010, and $80 million in royalty payments since production began.
Tenke, which employs 2,300 staff and 1,400 sub-contractors, 98 percent of whom are Congolese, is holding negotiations with the government after a mining review found fault with its agreement in a sector-wide review of contracts.