Barrick’s transformation of its Lumwana mine into a world-class producer will provide strong impetus for the government’s thrust to revive the country’s copper industry, President and Chief Executive Mark Bristow said this week after a meeting with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema.
Barrick is investing almost $2 billion in an expansion project designed to increase Lumwana’s annual production to an estimated 240,000 t of copper from a 50 Mt per annum process plant over a 36-year life of mine, elevating this once-unprofitable operation into the front rank of copper producers. The project’s accelerated work program is targeting completion of the full feasibility study by the end of 2024, bringing expected expanded process plant production forward to 2028.
Since Barrick took over operations at Lumwana in 2019, the mine has contributed almost $3 billion to the Zambian economy in the form of taxes, royalties, salaries and the procurement of goods and services. In addition to its local procurement policy, the company is also committed to local employment, and 99.3% of Lumwana’s current workforce are Zambian nationals.
“Barrick believes that its host countries are its key stakeholders and that partnering with them creates sustainable value for both of us. In Zambia as elsewhere in our global network, we seek to share the economic benefits generated by our mines with the countries’ governments and people, notably our neighbouring communities,” Bristow said.
Last year Barrick launched a Business Accelerator Program aimed at building business capacity for the Zambian contractors in Lumwana’s supply chain and to support them in effecting their own growth plans. It is also partnering with the country’s Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises to support the development of these businesses.
Looking at Lumwana’s current performance, Bristow said it was on track to deliver its production guidance for 2023 and was ramping up owner mining with both the reopening of the Malundwe pit as well as delivery of the new owner mining pre-stripping fleet.
Republican President Hakainde Hichilema stated he was elated by the news of the planned expansion. “This is a show of confidence in our New Dawn government by one of the world’s leading mining companies. Our laser focus is on establishing Zambia as a global mining destination. We have also set ourselves the target of producing 3 million tonnes of copper by 2030. Barrick is a key strategic partner on this journey.”
President Hichilema called on Barrick to prioritise local content and increase the participation of Zambian suppliers to the Lumwana mine. He also encouraged Barrick to deploy the most advanced mining technology and invest in downstream value addition in support of the New Dawn’s vision of establishing green industrial parks in Zambia.