Konkola Deep Mining Project in Chilalabombwe to increase production

By Nawa Mutumweno (Zambia) -The commissioning of the 1 500  metres  depth mid-shaft  at Konkola Deep Mining Project in Chilalabombwe will increase production  from the current two million  tonnes  to seven million  tonnes of copper ore per annum by 2012.

According to KDMP general manager Raj  Kulkarni, currently Konkola Copper Mines (KCM)  produces  50 000  tonnes of finished copper  annually from its  mine at Konkola Integrated  Business Unit (IBU) but when ongoing expansion works  at KDMP are fully commissioned, the mine will produce 200 000 tonnes of  finished copper.

The shaft, which was commissioned in April by President Rupiah Banda, is dubbed as Number Four Main Shaft and has pump chambers to dewater 300 000 cubic metres of water per day and two winder  skips of  63 tonne capacity with service cage of 100 men.

The start-of-the-art shaft has supporting facilities  such as  crusher chambers , two rock-hoisting skip bins (large containers) with each having a capacity to carry 37 tonnes of ore that will allow KCM to increase its production capacity to an estimated  500 000 tonnes of finished copper by 2012.

“The main objective of  the shaft is to increase production since KCM shall now  go beyond the exhausted levels and reach where the ore  bodies are. This development will allow KCM to ramp up production quicker,”Kulkarni elaborated.

Other major infrastructure completed  include  four shafts  for  ventilation and dewatering with a combined  total depth of  2 500 metres, expansion of an existing pump chamber to provide additional pumping capacity of 60 000 cubic metres  of water daily, additional ventilation of  250 cubic metres per second, and a winder  to lower  and raise  large  mining equipment such as loaders and trucks  in one piece without dismantling.

A new  concentrator  with a capacity to process six million tonnes of  copper ore per year has already been fully commissioned .  And a backfill plant to classify the tailings from the concentrator for use as backfill material to fill up the cavities made by extracting ore from underground has also been completed.

Work is also advanced to increase the tramming capacity of one of the existing production levels by introducing high capacity and high speed tramming equipment with electric locomotives and mine cars.

In addition, a service decline is being mined from surface for direct trackless access into the mine. The quality of all construction is of international standard and all work has been performed with the highest regard for safety.

“This KDMP will allow the mine to access the are reserves to a depth of 1 500 metres and increase the life of the mine to beyond 2030. The aggressive investment and project implementation policy of Vedanta  Resources Plc has made  this long-awaited dream come true for KCM and Zambia. Since the takeover by Vedanta in November 2004, KCM has spent almost $1.6 billion in capital investment in its various projects that include the KDMP, the concentrator at Konkola, the new smelter at Chingola and other smaller projects,” Kulkarni said.

Phase 1 of the project allows access to 1 350 metres. Phase 2 will see the continued development of this new shaft complex to the design depth of 1 500 metres.

And KDMP package A manager Billy Sakala disclosed that the mid shaft loading involved construction of a new rock-hoisting infrastructure system up to a depth of 1 010 metres from surface to handle and hoist ore and waste  generated from and above 950-metre depth  and will increase  the mine’s rock hoisting capacity   by four million  tonnes per year.

And  Freddie Durand , who is underground manager  for Grinaker  LTA, which had been contracted  to sink the shaft , said the  first blast  was done in March 2007.

“Since then we have been working on schedule  and we are on course to get to the  bottom by 2012 and we have recorded no fatality during this project and we are doing everything possible to maintain  this clean   safety record,” Durand pointed out.