KABANDA CHULU, Lusaka
CHIBULUMA Mines Plc envisages shutting down its mine by 2022 as planned unless ongoing exploration works find new copper deposits.
Company head of finance Eustus Munsaka said the biggest challenge is that the current mineral deposit will be mined out within the next few years.
Chibuluma is one of the first Zambian mines to be privatised in 1997, and after over 18 years of operation, it is nearing the end of its working life.
The mine is 85 percent owned by the South African mining company Metorex, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China’s Jinchuan Group since 2012.
“Unless our ongoing exploration finds a new copper deposit worth exploiting soon, Chibuluma will probably close sometime between 2020 and 2022. All mines have a natural lifespan, and we are about to reach the end of ours,” Mr Munsaka said in a statement yesterday.
However, he said a US$4.4 million rehabilitation programme is underway to restore the landscape to its original state.
“Some 33,000 trees have been planted, carpet grass has been laid, and firebreaks have been built. Once the mine stops operating, various structures and buildings will be demolished and roads will be scraped.
“More land will be replanted with vegetation, and any contaminated land will be neutralised with lime. The entrance to the mine will be sealed to reduce the risk of acid mine drainage,” he said.
It is projected that after closure, the shareholder Metorex and its parent company, Jinchuan, will shift their focus to the larger copper-mining investments in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Even though closure is still a few years off, Chibuluma has developed a track record in its contribution to Zambia since it was privatised in 1997.
The mine has paid over US$120 million corporate taxes to Government, uplifted the community through its corporate social responsibility programme, and stimulated the local economy and job creation through the spending power of its employees.