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Lumwana copper mine’s Super Pit expansion project has been accelerated with initial production now scheduled for 2028, Barrick president and CEO Mark Bristow said on Tuesday.

The project will transform the once-struggling Lumwana mine into a major global copper producer, targeting an estimated production of about 240 000 t/y over a 30-year lifespan.

A crucial element in the Zambian government’s broader plan to rejuvenate the country’s copper industry within the next decade, the project is projected to cost almost $2-billion, with construction slated to start later this year.

In line with Barrick’s overarching strategy, which aims to double copper production by the end of the decade and increase it to an estimated one-billion pounds, or 450 000 t/y, by 2031, Lumwana has undergone a comprehensive restructuring and re-engineering process. The reopening of the Malundwe pit and the seamless transition to owner mining have played instrumental roles in achieving its production guidance for 2023.

Barrick’s commitment to expanding its copper portfolio is not limited to Lumwana, the Reko Diq project, in Pakistan, is also a vital component of the group’s broader copper growth strategy.

Meanwhile, Barrick reports that since 2019, Lumwana has contributed almost $3-billion to the Zambian economy in the form of royalties, taxes, salaries and the procurement of goods and services from local businesses.

Local procurement of $472-million in 2023 made up more than 81% of total spend for Lumwana.

Barrick has also launched a Business Accelerator Program designed to build the business capacity of the Zambian contractors in its supply chain, equipping them to grow and diversify their enterprises and remain sustainable beyond Lumwana’s life-of-mine.

“In line with Barrick’s partnership philosophy, our REDD+ initiative will uplift our host communities through conservation of the natural forest surrounding the mine. Resources have already been allocated and engagement with the communities is under way. We are in discussion with the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment to facilitate the required licensing and our partnership with local government,” Bristow said.

Bristow met with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema in Lusaka on Tuesday.