Bloomberg News

Zambia 2012 Copper Production May Surge to Highest in Decade

January 09, 2012

(Updates with copper price in last paragraph.)

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Zambia, the largest copper producer in Africa, may raise output this year to the highest in at least a decade as prices more than doubled in the past three years.

Production may grow to 976,733 metric tons this year, the Bank of Zambia said in an e-mailed response to questions today. It was 789,382 tons last year through Nov. 30, according to preliminary data provided by the Lusaka-based central bank.

Output is returning to levels last seen in the 1970s after falling to 250,000 tons a year in the late 1990s, when copper generated 90 percent of Zambia’s foreign-currency earnings. The southern African country, which nationalized mines in the 1960s, saw economic growth slow following a decline in copper prices.

Producers such as Vedanta Resources Plc, which owns Konkola Copper Mines, Barrick Gold Corp’s Lumwana Mining Co. and First Quantum Minerals Ltd.’s Kansanshi copper and gold mine announced plans last year for combined spending of more than $6 billion. They are expanding in anticipation of growth in Asian demand.

Copper traded at $7,559.25 a ton by 9:14 a.m. in London.

--Editor: Tony Barrett, John Viljoen

To contact the reporter on this story: Simbarashe Gumbo in Johannesburg at sgumbo3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net


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