Zambia’s Lubambe Mine extension project to spur copper output

Victoria Falls, Zambia-Zimbabwe. Diego Delso,

The recent discovery of high-grade copper ore by Zambia’s Lubambe mine is a significant development that ushers in a new lease of life in the mining industry of Africa’s second-largest copper producer.

After the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zambia is the next highest producer of the red metal that yields large foreign exchange revenues and boosts the country’s GDP. Other than the government the mining industry provides stable employment to many in the land-locked nation.

The 235 million tone swathe unearthed by Lubambe Copper Mine is in part of the formerly Konkola north segment lying in Chililabombwe. The lucrative ore was stumbled on after a comprehensive study.

Lubambe Copper Mine runs an underground operation in Chililabombwe on the Copperbelt, near the border with the DRC. The firm is among the entrants in Zambia’s Private sector mining industry once state-operated.  Lubambe has committed a huge investment in the mine and intends to promote its operations and development of the entity globally.

 “We have firmed up the resource for the extension, it is 235 million tones at 3.7% Copper, it is, without doubt, the highest-grade largest undeveloped copper resource in the world, and it is an absolute world-class project!” said Lubambe Chief Executive officer Nick Bowen said recently.

The extension has been described as a supergiant with some of the world’s largest undeveloped high-grade copper deposits. An estimated injection of $10 billion will be required.

Since 1992 when the government of Zambia gave up control of the mining industry the private sector stepped in to infuse in new investment, finances and more expertise in the sector which by the 1990s was facing severe strain.

“A number of exploration campaigns were undertaken before African Rainbow Minerals with Val as a Partner acquired the mining license in 1997. Following further exploration and feasibility studies, construction commenced in 2010 with first contrite sales in October 2012. “Notes a historical anecdote from the firm.

According to Lubambe since 2018 the mine has focused on improving work practices and enhancing efficiencies. The firm has also advanced studies for the potential development of a segment called the Extension Area Project within the mine landscape lease.

The discovery has elated both government and trade unions as the project will not only provide employment to many people but will further boost local businesses for contractors and suppliers.

Bohen indicates too that in terms of social responsibility his firm would, under the extension project, focus on promoting agriculture, health and education facilities for the communities in the area.

At a recent visit to the mine, an elated Minister of Mines Richard   Musukwa promised government support describing the discovery as a milestone. Local mining trade unions have too hailed the development which will take in more people to be their members.

Since Independence in 1964 Zambia has been a preferred destination for investment because the country has enjoyed continuous peace and stability.  In June the Global Peace Index ranked Zambia’s fourth most peaceful country in Africa.

Other than the peace government from 1991 embraced a liberalized economy scrapping foreign exchange controls fostering a firm free-market landscape. In this context, the government has continuously called for further investment in the mining industry and other sectors.

Zambia which in October celebrated 56 years of independence has peacefully changed governments six times through multiparty elections.

While at the mine Minister Musukwa implored workers to support management especially that the company had committed itself to develop the area.

With this background, it is critical that the Lubambe assignment be supported as it is a huge project that will benefit Zambia’s economic resurgence program.

“An advanced concept study completed by Lubambe in March this year unveiled the huge copper deposit which promises to be a world-class mine once exploited. The new ore body sitting at depths of more than 1,000 meters is contained in Lubambe’s existing 228 square kilometers mining license,” says a statement on the study.

According to the study the extension project has the potential to emerge as a large new underground copper mine that will employ thousands of Zambia, contribute to the country’s economy for the next 50 years or more.

Another advantage notes the statement is that Lubambe is on the Copperbelt which is the world’s premier sediment and home to the largest and highest copper grades. The region stretches from central Zambia spanning over 500 kilometers into the DRC and estimated to contain 200 metric tons of copper metal and the worlds’ largest cobalt reserves.

“The Lubambe Extension Resources forms the heart of this supergiant, is centrally located within the Konkola- Musoshi basin with producing mines on either flank. To the South West is the principal asset of Konkola Copper Mines, the famous Konkola underground and associated with Fitwaola open pit. To the North West is the active Lubambe underground mine and further still, the inactive underground mine in the DRC.”

Amidst all this the company confirms, that the Lubambe extension enjoys the predictable geometry and lateral continuity characteristic of the deposit type.

As admitted above the extension project is a significant undertaking that will not only contribute to Zambia’s economy but will directly benefit the communities on the Copperbelt and the hosting district of Chililabombwe.

Since the privatization of the mines and other industries in Zambia unemployment has shot up. Those out of work include youths and trained staff who once worked in a thriving state-controlled economy. The Lubambe project will be taken on most of the affected and ultimately improve the lives of their families.

Lubambe Copper Mine should be encouraged too especially that it is hand in glove with the government, it has developed a rapport with the state which is keen to see that the project takes off and succeeds. On their part workers should support the investor by ensuring that they put their best in performance.

So far since 1991 when the country liberalized the economy government has continuously created an enabling environment for investment. The discovery of the ore deposit should thus induce other investors not only to emulate but to join Lubambe Copper mine to put their money in Zambia. It will be worth the investment.

Hicks Sikazwe is a former Deputy Editor in Chief of the Times of Zambia, now a Freelance journalist, based on the Copperbelt. Comments or 260 966929611/ 260 955929611.

Photo: Victoria Falls, Zambia-Zimbabwe. Diego Delso,