Jun 28, 2010 (Dow Jones Commodities News Select via Comtex) -- Zambia's copper production in the January-May period rose 16.3% from a year earlier as the country's mines continued to ramp up production, the Central Bank of Zambia said Monday.
Copper production in the first five months of the year increased to 321,132 metric tons, from 276,239 tons in the same period last year, the central bank said in a statement. Zambia is Africa's largest copper producer.
January-May copper exports increased 41% to 345,329 tons from 244,873 tons, it said. The difference between production and exports was attributed to sales from stockpiles by some mines.
The improvement in exports was also attributed to the recovery of global copper prices during the period, trade officials said. Zambia exports nearly all its copper output in copper bars, mainly to the U.S., European and Asian markets.
Cobalt production in the first five months almost doubled to 3,200 tons from 1,613 tons. Cobalt exports also increased to 3,198 tons, from 1,587 tons. The improvement in cobalt production was attributed to the resumption of output at the Chambishi Smelter, Zambia's largest cobalt smelter.
The Chambishi smelter resumed output early this year after more than a year of closure, following the recovery in global cobalt prices. The smelter is owned by Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. PLC (ENRC.LN).
Expansion projects at the country's various mines have been helping to boost copper production, industry officials said. Output is projected to hit 1 million tons by 2012, compared with around 700,000 tons last year.
Copper mining companies operating in Zambia include the London-listed Vedanta Resources PLC (VED.LN), Swiss commodity trader Glencore International AG, and two Toronto-listed companies, First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM.T) and Equinox Minerals Ltd. (EQN.T).