February 25, RIO DE JANEIRO (Dow Jones) - Brazilian mining company Vale SA (VALE, VALE5.BR) is seeking new copper reserves in Congo and Zambia as global prices and demand for the metal rise, President and Chief Executive Officer Roger Agnelli said Friday.
"We're pushing our investments in Zambia," said Agnelli on a conference call with analysts.
Vale plans to invest $80 million in 2011 at its Konkola North, Zambia, copper project after setting up a joint exploration venture in 2009 with African Rainbow Minerals in the African copper belt. Konkola North is due to produce 45,000 tons of copper a year after start-up in 2013, contributing to Vale's longer-term plan to produce 691,000 tons of copper annually from 2015, from mines in Brazil, Canada, Chile and Africa.
This year Vale expects to produce 332,000 tons of copper, up from 207,000 tons in 2010, the company said.
"Our target to produce 1 million tons of copper is still alive," Agnelli said on the call, indicating this could occur by about 2017.
Global copper prices look set to reach record highs this year, he said.