First Quantum Minerals (FM-T) has timed expansion right at its Bwana Mkubwa copper plant in Zambia. The plant was expanded in 2002. The company saw a 148% increase in copper production in 2003 over 2002 , for a 2003 total of 29,513 tonnes copper.
First Quantum has reported a 122% increase in copper production from 4,359 tonnes in the first quarter of 2003, to 9,689 tonnes in the first quarter of 2004.
The Bwana Mkubwa mine, just inside the Republic of Zambia, close to the southeastern border of the Republic of Congo and the Lonshi mine, in the Republic of Congo, 43 km to the southeast of this,are both sources of mill-feed for the Bwana Mkubwa plant. They are situated in an arcuate zone of copper-cobalt deposits that extends from Ndola, Zambia in the east and curves up and over the Democratic Republic of Congo before curving south again into the northwest portion of Zambia and west into Angola.
The Bwana Mkubwa plant produces copper cathode and manufactures sulphuric acid. It has a capacity to produce 35,000 tonnes of cathode copper per year. In 2003, the mine produced 29,513 tonnes of copper from 722,065 tonnes of ore with a copper grade of 4.8% and sold 75,228 tonnes of sulphuric acid.
Oxide-copper ore from the Lonshi mine is transported to the Bwana Mkubwa plant. The resource at Lonshi, at Dec.31, 2003 was a measured and indicated 5.9 million tonnes of ore grading 4.62% copper for a total of 273,714 tonnes of copper. There is a further inferred resource of 226,133 tonnes at 4.62% copper. This open-pit operation had a waste-to-ore strip ratio of 6.3:1 in 2003, an improvement over the forecast life-of-mine strip ratio which stood at 8.4:1. Transport costs for the ore were higher in 2003, compared with 2002, and processing required more acid due to the dolomitic composition of the ore.