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.