By Zandi Shabalala
LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Zambia’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) smelter could restart next week after a delay of around a fortnight, mines minister Richard Masukwa told Reuters.
The smelter was shut down in early October for annual maintenance, two days earlier than planned due to a leak. It was initially scheduled to reopen on Nov. 15.
“This week we are testing and I hope that next week (the smelter) will be up and running,” Masukwa said on the sidelines of the London Mines and Money conference.
He did not elaborate on the reason for the delay to the restart of the smelter, which has a capacity of 311,000 tonnes.
KCM is the local unit of Mumbai-listed Vedanta, which owns about 80% of the company.
Vedanta has been locked in a dispute with the Zambian government since May when Lusaka appointed a liquidator to run KCM, which is 20% owned by Zambia’s state mining company ZCCM-IH. Zambia accused KCM of breaching the terms of its licence, an accusation the company has denied.
An arbitrator has been appointed to settle the dispute and both sides are negotiating dates for official proceedings, Vedanta executive Deshnee Naidoo told Reuters on Monday. (Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Pravin Char)