September 14, 2009 / 1:45 PM / 10 years ago

Zambia's Konkola hires S.Africa firm to mine copper

* Plans to resume cobalt output on course

* Moolmans to mine 34 million tonnes ore

LUSAKA, Sept 14 (Reuters) - A Zambian unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc VED.L has hired a South African company to mine for copper under plans to raise output to 500,000 tonnes by 2011 from around 200,000 now, the company said on Monday.

Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) said it had engaged a subsidiary of South Africa’s Aveng Group Ltd (AEGJ.J), Moolmans, which specialises in surface mining.

It added that its plans to resume cobalt output and bring it up to 5,000 tonnes per year were on course.

The company had said cobalt production would reach 5,000 tonnes after the 300,000 tonnes per year Nchanga copper smelter was commissioned in 2008, but gave no timeline to hit the target.

“Moolmans commenced operations at the site on September 1, 2009 under a performance-based contract to mine 34 million tonnes of rock in two years. This ore will be treated at the tail leaching plant at Nchanga,” KCM said in a statement.

KCM, Zambia’s largest copper producer, has commenced several projects intended to raise copper production to 500,000 tonnes from the current average of 200,000 tonnes by 2011.

KCM operates the Konkola, Nchanga and satellite Fitwaola copper mines.

The company, which is developing the Konkola Deep Mining Project, said to be the deepest copper mine in Africa, in July engaged Brazilian firm U&M (Mining) to mine two areas for both waste and copper ore in a bid to boost output.

“Their (Moolmans) involvement with KCM will create more employment and help us achieve our ambition of producing 500,000 tonnes of finished copper,” the company said.

Zambia is Africa’s largest copper producer. Mines are a major employer in the southern African country of 12 million people. (Editing by Shapi Shacinda, editing by Anthony Barker)

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