LUSAKA, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Zambia's Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc (VED.L), plans to build a $170 million copper plant with an annual output of 50,000 tonnes, it said on Friday.
KCM said in an application for the project to the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) the plant, to be located in the Nchanga mine area in Chingola, about 411 km north-west of Lusaka, would treat 12 million tonnes of refractory ore material per year.
Under Zambian law, the ECZ needs to approve all major infrastructure projects such as mines.
"The proposed project will be a stand-alone hydrometallurgical plant with its own support facilities such as crushing, milling, electro-winning, residual neutralization and disposal," KCM said.
It is expected to cover an area of about 186,269 square metres with an estimated lifespan of 13 years, KCM said.
"The proposed project is a brownfield already impacted on by ongoing mining and processing operations," the company said.
The company, Zambia's largest miner, has been implementing a number of new projects, including reclaiming refractory ores at Nchanga open pit under a new business plan to raise annual copper output to 500,000 tonnes by 2011.
KCM had planned to more than double output to 305,000 tonnes of copper cathode in the 2009 financial year ending in March 2010 from 140,000 tonnes produced the previous financial year but now says it will not meet the target due to the global financial crunch.
The firm produced 120,000 tonnes of copper in the nine months ending Dec. 31, 2009 compared with 98,000 tonnes in the corresponding period in 2008, according to Vedanta's third quarter results released on Wednesday.
Copper production at KCM rose to 41,958 tonnes in the three months to December 31, 2009 compared with 25,427 tonnes in the same quarter of 2008.
KCM, which operates the Nchanga smelter, Nchanga open pit, Konkola copper mine and the Fitwaola mine, is also developing the Konkola Deep Mining Project (KDMP), whose mid-shaft loading station would be commissioned in April.