Zambia’s copper production for the 2019 half-year has dropped to 355,751 metric tonnes from 408,919.01 tonnes in the corresponding period last year, triggered by slashed output at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Plc, among other factors.

According to official Ministry of Mines data, Zambia’s copper production for the half-year period declined to 355,751 tonnes up to June 30, 2019, compared to 408,919.01 tonnes during the corresponding period last year.

Commenting on the reduced output, Ministry of Mines Permanent Secretary Paul Chanda explained that KCM’s ongoing liquidation process had affected the mine’s productive capacity, while a smelter shutdown at Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) Plc had equally contributed to lower copper production, among others.

“The drop in production can be attributed to closure of North Shaft and smelter shutdown at Mopani, reduction of production at KCM owing to liquidation process and Kansanshi encountering low grade ores coupled with poor weather,” Chanda stated in response to a press query.

And asked whether the Ministry of Mines was confident Zambia’s total copper production would either meet or exceed last year’s output, Chanda stated that production was likely to be equal or marginally less.

“Given the developments in the sector, production will just be equal or less by a small margin to that of 2018,” stated Chanda.

Zambia recorded a marginal increase in its copper production last year to around 861,946 tonnes from 799,329 tonnes recorded in 2017, boosted by First Quantum Minerals’ (FQM) operations in Kalumbila District.

However, from January 1, 2019, government effected the 2019 mining fiscal regime, which has so far caused turbulence with some mining houses recording lower copper output.

Ministry of Mines data reveals that while copper output for the first three months of this year was higher than last year, production slumped and drastically lagged behind in April, May and June.

Output in the latter three months was recorded as 62,362.17 tonnes in April, 2019, down from 63,657.51 in April, 2018; 26,101.79 tonnes in May, 2019, compared to 69,861.74 tonnes last May, and 61,195.34 tonnes in June, 2019, down from 77,370.52 tonnes in the same month last year.