Lumwana owner expects huge profits and high copper prices

Lumwana owner expects huge profits and high copper prices

The world’s biggest gold miner, Canada’s Barrick Gold Corporation, says copper and gold prices are set to remain robust as it seeks to expand its Lumwana copper mine in Zambia.

Barrick (Australia Pacific) Ltd regional president Gary Halverson says the company remains bullish on gold, a store of wealth and hedge against inflation, amid sovereign debt concerns around the world.

Inflation in China will further enhance demand for gold, he said.

“We believe the copper price will continue to be supported on the demand and supply side,” Mr Halverson told the Diggers and Dealers mining conference in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, on Tuesday.

Mr Halverson said the miner expected to complete an expansion study of Lumwana in the second half of 2012 with a view to doubling throughput rates.

The asset was acquired through Barrick’s takeover earlier this year of Equinox Minerals.

The company expects copper production at Lumwana of more than 300 million pounds per annum after 2011 and before the planned expansion.

“We’re looking at operational improvements and efficiencies, with a focus on exploration to materially expand our resource,” he said.

Barrick said that its acquisition of African copper miner Equinox this year was a unique investment opportunity and that Barrick remained focused on gold mining.

Growth from existing gold projects was sufficient to lift annual gold output to nine million ounces within five years, Gary Halverson, regional president for Barrick (Australia Pacific), said.

AAP, with Reuters

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