Copperbelt Province has primarily been built on the Copper and Cobalt mining industry, dating back to the late 1920’s when the first commercial mine was opened in Luanshya District. With this long existence, the mines on the Copperbelt remain the major source of direct and indirect employment for most part of the population. Copper mining has been the main economic mainstay of the Zambian economy, contributing more than 70% of its income export.
The main Copper mining companies on the Copperbelt are Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) and Konkola Copper mines (KCM). These mines are a barometer for the state of health of the mining industry and by extension of the Zambian economy. The Copperbelt is largest contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and mining contributes 90 percent. The balance of the Zambia’s copper production comes from smaller Copperbelt mines and these include Lubambe Copper Mine; Chibuluma Mines; NFC Africa Mining; CNMC Luanshya; Chambishi Copper Smelting Company; Sino-Metals; and Chambishi Metals.
The Zambian government has a minority stake in the mines through ZCCM-IH. It owns 20% of Lubambe Copper Mine, 15% of NFC Africa Mining, 15% of Chibuluma Mines and 10% of Chambishi Metals.
KCM’s parent company has invested US$3 billion in the local operations. KCM is producing 400 tonnes per month which is an affirmative that the 400,000 tonnes copper production per year is achievable.
The focus of the Company is to expand and raise production safely in order to improve cash flows and so they have put in place initiatives such as the Safe 400+ tonnes per day campaign, which was the key driver to raise copper ore production at both the Nchanga and Konkola mines. Other initiatives include explorations for new resources and options to develop open pit mines into underground mines.
Apart from mining, KCM has planted 89,000 trees in the last 13 years in communities and schools of the Copperbelt. KCM has also removed off 500,000 metric tonnes of silt in 2017 from Mushishima Dam and streams within Chingola as an assurance of KCM’s ‘go green’ initiatives.
Mopani Copper Mines (MCM)
The story of the mine goes back to the early 1930s but in 2000, Mopani Copper Mines Plc worked on the acquisition of the ZCCM assets at Mufulira and Nkana mine.
Currently, copper reserves are estimated at 151.9 million tons, grading 1.89% copper and resources at 335 million tons, grading 2.05% copper.
Since inception, over 4 billion dollars invested in expanding and upgrading infrastructure at both Nkana and Mufulira. Investments in three (3) new shafts (Synclinorium, Mindolo Deep, and Mufulira Deep will improve production levels, efficiencies/safety as well as extend the life of the mines. The projects have progressed well the Synclinorium shaft was first to be commissioned and is actively hoisting. This is significant because the operations at Synclinorium are a good indication of the efficiencies expected to achieve companywide when all projects are completed. The Mindolo and Mufulira shafts are scheduled to be commissioned at the end of 2019 while works at the Nkana Concentrator commenced this year and are progressing well.
Since 2000, the Company has invested over US$200 million in various community projects with the aim of improving the living standards of the people. This investment has greatly helped especially the towns of Kitwe and Mufulira in such areas as infrastructure development, water and sanitation, education, health, sports and entrepreneurship development, among others.
Following this, the company has also created the Mopani Central Training Centre (MCTC) at a cost of over US$15million to train artisans in various engineering and mining skills. The engineering skills offered at the Centre include rigging, fitting and machining, instrumentation, auto electrical, plating and welding as well as training heavy mining equipment diesel mechanics. The Mopani Central Training Centre is fully accredited with the government’s Technical, Education, Vocation and Entrepreneurships Training Authority (TEVETA)
The Kagem emerald mine is the world’s single largest producer of emeralds and accounts for approximately 25% of global emerald production. It covers an area of approximately 41 square kilometres and is located in the central part of the Ndola Rural Emerald Restricted Area (“NRERA”), in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia. Recently, Kagem mine found the world’s biggest emerald a gem that weighs more than 1.1 kilograms at its mine in Lufwanyama in Zambia.
The 5,655-carat stone found earlier this month at the Kagem mine will be sold at auction in Singapore in November, Gemfields Group Ltd indicated. The stone named Inkalamu is almost twice the size of the world’s biggest ever rough diamond, the Cullinan, discovered near Pretoria in South Africa in 1905. Lime and Cement Producing Companies Lime and Cement producing companies such as Dangote, Zambezi Portland, Ndola lime and Handyman’s are some of the companies on the Copperbelt.