Posts Tagged ‘zambia’

Zambia : follow up on Lumwana copper mine

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President Rupiah Banda of Zambia, Africa’s biggest copper producer, said on Friday foreign mining firms should set up copper processing facilities to process finished products for export. Banda was speaking in Solwezi, 700 km northwest of the capital Lusaka, where he commissioned the Lumwana copper mine, a unit of Australia’s Equinox Minerals Ltd (EQN.TO: Quote) (EQN.AX: Quote).

As we reported earlier (All that glitters is not gold) copper production is expected to peak at 170,000 tonnes at the mine this year.

“What the government expects is for foreign investors in the mining sector to consider investing in metal processing facilities that add value to your metal,” the state-run Zanis news agency quoted Banda as saying. “Time is ripe for investors to consider processing the copper and add more value by selling finished products made in Zambia to the international market.”

Banda said his government would provide the necessary support to investors seeking to process copper in a bid to raise more revenue and create jobs.

Zambia has previously provided tax relief on imported equipment and machinery and also waived a 16 percent value added tax to investors in the mining sector to woo more foreign investments.

Banda hailed Equinox Minerals for continuing to develop the Lumwana copper mine even when the global financial crisis was affecting the operations of the industry following a slump in world metals prices.

Banda said Equinox Minerals had spent $1 billion developing the Lumwana mine in 12 years, including a new town in the area.

“This shows the trust (Equinox Minerals) has in our mining industry regardless of the ups and downs,” Banda said.

Copper mining is Zambia’s economic lifeblood and the mines are a major employer in this country of 12 million people.

Courtesy of Reuters

Copper prices leave producers feeling “wired”

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Copper futures for March delivery fell 2.35 cents to $1.4050 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange today. Copper, which reached a record $4.2605 a pound on May 5, has dropped 54 percent this year. Copper had more than quadrupled in the six years through 2007. The decline over the last six months,gives copper the worst- performance among metals tracked on the Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 commodities.

 

Copper prices will be “depressed” next year and demand almost “stagnant” as the international economic crisis leads to higher stockpiles of the metal, Chilean  state owned Codelco Chief Executive Officer Jose Pablo Arrelano was quoted in Bloomberg today

Demand won’t recover until 2010, Arellano said today in a speech in Santiago. Prices for the metal, will return to “normal” in 2011 as the surplus declines, Arellano said, without specifying a price. Codelco is the world’s largest copper producer by 2007 output. Global stockpiles are rising as wordlwide economic expansion slows to 2 percent or less this year and next. Before a “violent drop” cut copper prices by two-thirds since May, Codelco had forecast a gradual decline, he said. The company has sold a smaller share of its production for 2009 than the 80 percent usually committed by this time.

This will undoubtedly hurt other players in the commodities market, including BHP Biliton (NYSE – BBL) / (ASX – BHP) & Freeport McMoran (NYSE – FCX), Freeport McMoran have made some inroads to looking at the problem, the board announced in early December , Revised Operating Plan in Response to Weak Market Conditions. Which is basically a slow down in extraction & refining in both its North & South American operations. In Chile & Peru, copper extraction looks like a loss leader at the moment, in aggregate across all units, costs in 2009 are predicted to range from between $0.85 – $1.45 per pound. BHP have similarly looked at cutbacks regards copper extraction, the world’s biggest mining company, said yesterday that it has delayed plans for an energy plant in Chile that it planned to build to supply two of its copper mines.

As discussed in an earlier post, Aussie-Canuck operator Equinox have just opened the largest copper mine in Africa, at Lumwana in Zambia, which when it comes fully online in early 2009, will be churning out 172,000 tonnes per year, which can only bring about competition for BHP & Freeport, especially as Equinox has hedged production at $2.00 for the first three years of operation at Lumwana & have an existing extraction cost of $0.80.

Chile, the world’s biggest copper supplier, and the rest of the world will weather “tough” months ahead, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet  said last week. Copper demand in the U.S. may weaken further, while the pace of demand growth in China may be cut by almost half to between 5 percent and 6 percent, Eduardo Titelman, EVPof the Chilean Copper Commission, said in an interview last week.

Demand growth in China, the world’s largest user of the metal used in plumbing and wiring, slowed to an estimated 9.8 percent this year from 26 percent in 2007, the commission said. Freeport-McMoRan has shelved projects including a $450 million expansion at its Chilean copper mine El Abra. Freeport owns 51 percent of the mine and Codelco the remainder.

 

 

 

Zambia looks to part privatise Zamtel

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All that glitters …

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is not gold … but copper, especially if you are Equinox Minerals (ASX – EQN) / (TSE – EQN). Equinox is an international exploration and mine development company, dual listed on the  Australian & Canadian stock exchanges.

 Equinox has exploration activity being undertaken in Zambia and interests in Australia and Peru. The company is focused on operating its 100% owned Lumwana Copper Project in Zambia. The Lumwana Copper Mine will produce an average of 172,000 tonnes per year of copper metal contained in concentrates for the first 6 years of its 37 year mine life. The 20 Mtpa plant is now fully operational and production commenced in early December 2008.  Full production will be reached in 2009 at which time Lumwana will be Africa’s largest copper mine.

On 3rd December, Lumwana gave its first copper concentrates, with a concentration grade of 41%, fulfilling a 9 year odyssey for Equinox &  its CEO Craig Williams :

Equinox is pleased to accept handover of the Lumwana process facilitiers & commence ore commissioning & production ramp up. We are very pleased to bring online the lasrgest copper mine on the  African continent, which will not only be a long term, low cost producer, but will make a major social & economic contribution to Zambia.

Although there is a global slump in commodities, Equinox would seem to be in a good position, compared to many competitors. The Lumwana mine allows extraction with a production cost of $0.80 per lb, with todays copper spot price of $1.46, things could be better & according to Williams they are. Equinox managed to hedge production last year, which allows them to sell for the next two years at a minimum of $2.00, the hedge book giving a $300M edge to Equinox for its term, nice play & caps off.

An interview with Williams can be seen here, from the Business News Network, where he outlines the company strategy regarding Lumwana.  (personally love the way the interviewer (Canadian) says aboot !!)

In addition, Equinox has completed a Uranium Feasibility Study (“UFS”) investigating the onsite treatment of discrete and high grade uranium mineralization contained within the Lumwana copper pitshells. The study confirmed the viability of onsite uranium treatment. Should Equinox be successful in negotiating viable yellowcake off-take agreements and secure the requisite project capital financing, the Company expects plant construction to take 18-24 months.

Equinox believes that at Lumwana there exists significant opportunity to expand and optimize the concentrator and mine throughput rate as well as opportunity to assess and evaluate the additional near mine deposits discovered to date. Equinox maintains an active “pipeline” of exploration projects on its Zambian tenements which presently total some 6,284 km2. In particular, exploration of targets on properties near Lumwana is focused on resource definition which, if successful, could deliver additional ore to Lumwana Mill.