CNMC’s Zambian copper mine begins trial operations, targets 252ktpy copper concs output

China Nonferrous Mining Corp's (CNMC) copper project in Zambia has started trial production and targets an annual output of 252,000 tonnes of copper concentrates once commercially operational, the state-owned miner said on Thursday August 23.

The Chambishi Southeast project is expected to produce approximately 63,000 tonnes of copper contained in concentrates and about 1,000 tonnes of cobalt annually after commercial production is achieved, according to a regulatory filing to Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The company did not disclose the initial production target of the $830-million project for this year, or when full commercial production was expected to begin.

The majority of the copper concentrates output from Chambishi Southeast Mine will be sent to CNMC’s Chambishi copper smelter, a company source told Metal Bulletin. 

The Chambishi copper smelter is a major provider of blister copper, an intermediate copper product, to China. It produced 220,000-230,000 tonnes of blister copper and anodes last year, most of which was shipped to China. That suggests limited units of concentrates from the new output will be sold to the spot market. 

Blister copper has become increasingly popular in China as a substitute to copper scrap, whose availability has been restricted by China’s tighter environmental policies. 

Terms for blister copper refining charges (RCs) in China dropped notably month on month in July, to $200-210 per tonne, as declining copper scrap imports gave rise to additional demand for overseas blister copper.

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