LONDON, Mar 07, 2012 (Dow Jones) -- Construction of a copper smelter at the Kansanshi mine in Zambia is slated for completion by mid-2014 followed by commissioning and ramp up, its owner First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM.T) said late Tuesday.
Work on the smelter, which will have the capacity to process 1.2 million metric tons of concentrate to produce over 300,000 tons of copper metal annually, has commenced with key long lead equipment items tendered and detailed engineering design underway.
The smelter was approved for construction in the fourth quarter of 2011 and will process copper concentrate produced at a soon-to-be expanded Kansanshi and at the company's Sentinel project in Zambia. Currently, First Quantum sends its copper concentrate to be processed at Zambian smelters owned by other companies.
The smelter will also produce over 3,000 tons a day of by-product acid at almost zero cost, allowing Kansanshi to treat high acid-consuming oxide ores as well leach some mixed ores, the company said.
Construction commenced in 2011 at Kansanshi to expand annual copper production capacity from 250,000 tons to about 400,000 tons by 2015. The Sentinel project is meanwhile expected to initially produce 150,000 tons of copper in concentrate annually, rising to 300,000 tons.