Jul 31, 2010 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) --
Zambia's 2010 copper output is projected to increase by at least 7% on the year as the country's mines continue to ramp up output following the recovery of global copper prices, the central Bank of Zambia said late Friday.
According the central bank Governor Caleb Fundanga, Zambia's 2010 copper output is expected to hit 750,000 metric tons compared with around 700,000 tons produced last year.
In remarks broadcasted on national television, Fundaga said the inauguration of Konkola Copper Mines' deep mine project is also expected to help lift the country's annual copper output to at least one million tons by 2012. Konkola Copper Mines is a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources PLC (VED.LN).
Since Vedanta took over Konkola in 2004, it has invested at least $1.5 billion in various expansion projects and the unit's annual copper output is projected to reach 500,000 tons by 2012 from 305,000 tons produced last year. Zambia is Africa's largest copper producer.
According to Fundaga, the recovery of global copper prices since early last year is expected to continue attracting mine investors in the country.
Zambia's copper-mining sector almost collapsed following the reduction of global copper prices in 2008 due to effects of the global economic downturn; however, prices have been recovering since early 2009, inducing companies to ramp up production.
Zambia's Chamber of Mines estimates that at least $5 billion worth of investments have been pumped in the sector since the completion of the privatization of copper mines at the start of the decade.
Other companies that have pumped huge investments in Zambia's copper mining sector in recent years include China Nonferrous Metals Co. (8306.HK), Toronto-listed First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM.T), Equinox Minerals Ltd. (EQN.T), South Africa-based Metorex Ltd. (MTX.JO) and Swiss commodity trader Glencore International AG.