Africa will be recognised as the biggest contributor to the growth of mined copper production from 2013 to 2017 in percentage terms.

Predictions reveal that African mine output will peak in 2018 and decline thereafter if no new mines are developed  adding, however, that Africa’s refined copper production capability is forecast to increase by 600 000 t between 2013 and 2017, with the strongest growth expected to come from the DRC and Zambia.

Copper mines currently operating in Africa include the Kansanshi copper mine near Solwezi, in Zambia, 80% of which is owned by mining and metals company First Quantum Minerals subsidiary Kansanshi Mining; Zambia’s Lumwana copper mine, owned by gold mining major Barrick Gold; and the $450-million greenfield Lubambe copper mining project, owned by diversified mining major Vale, mining and minerals company African Rainbow Resources and investment group Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings.

Today Africa currently makes up 1% of global base metals demand, 9% of mine production and 1% of refined production. Matthews says, however, that “demand growth is forecast to slow marginally over the next few years, with low growth for zinc and nickel and a contraction in lead demand as a result of increased battery imports – this will partly offset growth in aluminium and copper consumption.