Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX)(NYSE:GOLD) said on Wednesday it would invest almost $2 billion in an expansion of its Lumwana copper mine in Zambia, with the purpose of increasing production of the coveted metal.
The project will increase Lumwana’s process plant annual production to an estimated 240,000 tonnes of copper from the current 50 million tonnes per annum, over a 36-year life of mine.
The move if part of Barrick’s wider plan to extend the life of the mine to 2060 and help Zambia revive its copper industry, president and chief executive Mark Bristow said.
“Barrick believes that its host countries are its key stakeholders and that partnering with them creates sustainable value for both of us,” Bristow said.
Zambia already is Africa's second-largest copper producer after its northern neighbour, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Barrick aims to complete the full feasibility study by the end of 2024, bringing the expanded production forward to 2028, the company said.
In the past year, the Canadian gold giant has repeatedly express its intention to add more copper assets to its African portfolio, expanding its presence on the continent’s copperbelt.
The world’s No. 2 gold miner wants to explore for new copper deposits in light of a looming deficit and high prices for the industrial metal, which is a key component in the making of electric vehicles (EVs) and vital to the renewables sector.
The Canadian company’s goal is to double its copper production by 2031 to 1 billion pounds.
Since Barrick took over operations at Lumwana in 2019, the once-unprofitable operation has contributed almost $3 billion to the Zambian economy in the form of taxes, royalties, salaries and the procurement of goods and services.
The Toronto-based miner said that 99.3% of Lumwana’s current workforce is made up of Zambian nationals.
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MINING.COM