HARARE (Mining Index) – THERE is currently no large scale copper mining operations being undertaken in Zimbabwe. A few small to medium scale isolated operations are being conducted in Mashonaland West province especially in Makonde District.
By Business Reporter – Friday 26 June 2020
Zimbabwean copper deposits normally run together with gold veins.
Copper ore exists in the oxide and sulphide form visually identifiable with its distinct greenish to blue colour.
Copper can be mined using either surface mining methods or underground mining method depending on the existence of the ore body.
The ore is then pulverised to improve the homogeneity in the mined ore when being sampled as copper concentration varies considerably in the ore.
The pulverised ore can be sold as it is. If achieving a grade of 10 percent and above, it can then be concentrated through floatation methods to a much higher grade before being sold as copper concentrates or before being taken through the smelting process.
Copper can be sold as copper ore, copper concentrates or copper cathodes, with value addition being achieved in that order.
Copper markets generally accept copper ore grades of 10 percent and above, copper concentrates of 20 percent or more and copper cathodes normally have 99.99 percent purity.
The price for all three marketable forms of the copper are derived from the London Metals Exchange (LME) Copper price which is multiplied by the copper ore percentage, copper concentrate percentage and a refinery factor for a given grade.
There are ready buyers in Zimbabwe and also on the international market for Zimbabwean copper ore and copper concentrates with only a single Chinese company in the Mhangura area doing copper smelting.
Copper is mainly used in the manufacture of electrical and electronics components. It is also used in the manufacture of plumping components, manufacture of agriculture chemicals and has other industrial uses such as in the production of the brass alloy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it easy to find areas to mine copper in Zimbabwe?
It is the same process you do for other mineral claim registration. You need to engage a prospector to help you find these areas but it is mainly abundant in Mashonaland West province.
What is the LME Official Price and how is it calculated?
The LME Official Price is the last bid and offer price quoted during the second Ring session and the LME Official Settlement Price is the last cash offer price. How is it used? The LME Official Price is used as the global reference for physical contracts.
Is there any typical percentage of gold associated with copper ore?
It all depends, but where I am working it averages 83 percent. To us, gold is only a by-product as we are mainly concentrating on copper. For every 1000 tons of copper we produce we get 4kgs of gold as a by-product and it is more than enough to cover all our production costs.
What kind of equipment are we looking at?
As for equipment it depends with kind and size of operation you want to take but it is basically the milling plant, concentration plant and the smelting plant.
What equipment is synonymous with a small scale copper extraction project?
It is the same equipment used in your gold mining operations. You will need your drilling and blasting equipment namely the compressor and the jackhammer plus the explosives then your hammer mill for crushing. If your ore grades are achieving 10 percent and above, you are going to get paid from around US$300 per ton going up.
So it is US$300 per ton straight from the pit or processed?
You need to mill it so that it becomes easy to get an average of your ore grade as copper concentration is not uniform in your mined rocks. One rock could be 49 percent copper and the other one percent copper so when you pulverise it the ore gets to mix also helping to get a much accurate assay result.
What is the price of copper per ton?
As of today, for a 15 percent grade, you would be getting around US$425/ton and the buyer would pay 50 percent of the gold assay value if it exceeds 2g per ton.
Which other areas in Zimbabwe we can find copper?
Makonde, Rusape, Lalapanzi. It’s also found in Mhangura.
Do you need any special documentation when transporting copper?
It’s the basic export documents from the Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) and ore removal permits from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
If I have my hammer mill compressor can I start mining copper or I am far from it?
You can start if your deposit is going to give you a grade of 10 percent and above after milling.
Does it mean where there are limestone deposits, copper also exists?
I have not yet got a chance to prove it geologically but I know that gold normally moves along with antimony and or copper.
Can we find copper as an independent mineral?
It normally has other minerals such as iron as one of the main components.
What colour is copper when being mined?
Its green to blue in colour, but it has a lot of variants of that blue colour.
Can copper mining be done on small scale?
You can but copper being a base metal much of your profit is in volumes. Most buyers buy from 500 tons going up.
About the presenter
This presentation was done by Tashinga Maponga from Afro Southern. He has over 10 years’ experience in mining platinum, copper, chrome, gold, nickel, tantalite and various semi-precious stones.
He is currently mining copper in Kenzamba, 60km south of Chinhoyi.
“The deposit we are mining in Kenzamba has an average copper ore grade of 15 percent and gold at an average of 8g per ton, which to us is typically shooting two birds with one stone,”
I am a consultant for various mining companies and individuals so mining is basically what takes all my time” he said.
He also has intensive experience in exploration, mine planning, mine design, mineral processing and mine closure. ENDS// www.miningindex.co.zw
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