NFC Africa, majority owned by China Non-ferrous Metals Company Limited (CNMC), on Wednesday launched output at a new $832 million Zambian copper mine, extending the firm’s lifespan by over 20 years.

Zambia, Africa’s second-largest producer of the metal, saw output rise 10.6 percent in the first half of the year on the back of stable power supply and relatively higher metal prices in recent months.

Trial production begun last week at Chambishi South-East Mine, which is expected to produce 60,000 tonnes of copper at full capacity by 2020, NFC Africa spokesman John Mtonga said.

NFC Africa currently mines at the Chambishi Main Mine and Chambishi West Mine and had been developing the Chambishi South-East Mine, Mtonga said.

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu said during the launch that NFC Africa had so far invested more than $500 million of the total planned project investment of $832 million in the project, about 400 km (250 miles) northwest of Lusaka.

The South East Ore Body has copper ore reserves estimated at more than 76 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.18 percent, according to a document submitted to the environmental agency.

Other foreign mining companies operating in Zambia include Canada’s First Quantum Minerals, Glencore, Barrick Gold and Vedanta Resources.

(Reuters)