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Vedanta to invest $200 Million in Zambia copper mine

Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), owned by London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc. , plans to invest $200 Million in an abandoned open pit mine which last produced copper in the 1970s, its chief executive said.

KCM Chief Executive Mr. Jayekumar Janakaraj said on Thursday that pre-feasibility studies had been completed and the company was just awaiting environmental approvals for the project.

The production capacity of the mine had not yet been established but indications were that there was a huge deposit of copper, he said.

"The biggest investment decision will be made in the next three months after (environmental) approval. Mimbula investment will be close to $200 Million", Mr. Janakaraj said in an interview.

Since 2011, KCM had been carrying out activities at Mimbula including pit de-watering and de-silting as mining had not taken place there for a long time, he said.

"We will start that pit in either the quarter starting November - December or next year. Actual mining of ore should start may be in early April of next year", he said.

The Mimbula open pit mine was expected to create 500 - 600 jobs in 2014, he said.

KCM started trial mining at a separate project under its Nchanga underground operation where it had invested in modern mining methods to access copper ore from an upper ore body to extend mine life by more than 25 years from 2013, Mr. Janakaraj said.

"We expect to get 6,000 - 7,000 tonnes of copper in the year 2013 / 2014 running from April - March" he said.

Since its acquisition of KCM, Vedanta has invested $2.6 Billion in various projects, including the flagship Konkola Deep Mining Project (KDMP) where it has accessed a rich ore body.

KCM was also exploring for coal in southern Zambia and recently obtained a licence to conduct copper exploration in north-western Zambia, he said.

KCM planned to import up to 30,000 tonnes of copper concentrate from the Democratic Republic of Congo in the next few years to enable its 311,000 tonnes per annum smelter to run at full capacity, Mr. Janakaraj said. (Reuters)