Canada’s First Quantum Minerals will suspend production at its Bwana Mkubwa copper processing plant in Zambia in August after running out of raw materials, technical manager Andre Scott said on Wednesday.
Scott said Bwana Mkubwa had exhausted the copper ore oxide it imported from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and operations would be suspended until the plant sourced other economically viable raw materials.
“We will be closing the plant in August because the ore has been exhausted earlier than we had initially thought due to higher output,” Scott told Reuters by telephone from Ndola, 300 km from Lusaka.
First Quantum produced 5 000 t of copper at its Bwana Mkubwa processing plant in Zambia in the first six months of 2010 after it said in January production was expected to average 800 t per month.
Scott said the plant was initially expected to process stockpiled ore from another First Quantum operation, the Lonshi mine in the DRC until the end of 2010.
Bwana Mkubwa resumed output in January after authorities in the DRC partially lifted the ban on copper ore exports, which forced the closure of the plant in October 2008.
Copper Mining in Zambia, Africa’s largest producer of the metal, is the country’s main economic lifeblood.