Tuesday, June 25, 2013

KCM, govt seek best policies on value addition to copper
By Misheck Wangwe in Kitwe
Sat 22 June 2013, 14:00 CAT

KONKOLA Copper Mines says it is working with the government to find best ways of formulating policies that will determine value addition to copper.

According to a news release, company chief executive officer Jeyakumar Janakaraj said the mining company was working in collaboration with the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) and the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry was pioneering a renaissance in value-addition to the red-orange metallic metal, which was used principally as a durable, corrosion-resistant, and weatherproof architectural material in the construction industry.

He said the joint KCM-government initiative was exploring the introduction of a specific policy strategy that would insulate new firms from foreign exchange fluctuations and other global and domestic market forces, as well as exposure to start-up capital.

Janakaraj said the Private-Public-Partnership (PPP) plan to create a model Copper Park, a location for the manufacture of copper products like geyser elements, roofs, electronics, vaults, busbar and doors was expected to broaden the usage of the metal so as to keep abreast of the diversification of the country's economy.

He said in its capacity as a private-sector promoter of using copper in local beneficiation, KCM plans to be one of major suppliers of large volumes of copper to local industry.

"In fact we are already doing value-addition because we go beyond the production of copper concentrate to produce fully refined copper with a grade of plus 99.99 percent," Janakaraj said.

"A significant portion of the value addition to copper occurs at this stage. We do not export copper blister, which is an intermediate product."

He said the company was also exploring ideas to provide technical support to ensure that the project takes off on the model of its sister company, Sterlite Industries India Limited.

Janakaraj said Sterlite Industries of India currently sells around 60 to 65 per cent of its copper rod and copper cathodes to the domestic manufacturing industry and the balance was exported.

He said India's auxiliary industry using copper to produce winding wires, cables, alloy, transformers and other products was thriving on the supply, adding that when replicated, the model would enhance economic growth and create more jobs.

"The current fiscal and commercial policies don't support this, but KCM is already engaged with the government to help to formulate policies that will determine that value-addition chain because the industry is capital-intensive," Janakaraj said.

Analysts say these plans also augur well for promoting small-scale industry dealing in the manufacture of decorative art, which prominently feature copper.

The metal's high thermal and electrical conductivity could spur local production of larger quantities of cables for wiring.

Janakaraj said as a starting point, existing copper value-adding ventures within Zambia such as the manufacturing of cables should be supported fully.

And economic consultant Professor Oliver Saasa said although the country was currently a net exporter of copper cathode, little value-addition was going into the product at the moment.

Prof Saasa said as the country attains higher annual production, there was need to use copper to diversify the economy.

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