The Kansanshi mine, the largest copper mine in Africa, is 80% owned by Kansanshi Mining PLC, a First Quantum subsidiary. The remaining 20% is owned by a subsidiary of ZCCM. The mine is located approximately 10 kilometres north of the town of Solwezi and 180 kilometres to the northwest of the Copperbelt town of Chingola.
The mine has undergone several expansions since it began operating in 2005. From an initial production capacity of 110,000 tonnes of copper, Kansanshi is now capable of producing 340,000 tonnes of copper and more than 120,000 ounces of gold per year. A multi-stage expansion project aims to increase copper output capacity to approximately 400,000 tonnes by 2015.
Mining is carried out in two open pits, Main and Northwest using conventional open pit methods and employing hydraulic excavators and a fleet of haul trucks. Ore treatment is flexible to allow for variation in ore type either through an oxide circuit, a sulphide circuit and a transitional ore “mixed float” circuit with facilities to beneficiate flotation concentrate to final cathode via the HPL circuit.
Sulphide ore is treated via crushing, milling and flotation to produce copper in concentrate. The expansion of the sulphide milling circuit was commissioned in Q4, 2008, to maintain finished copper production as oxide ore is depleted and sulphide ore grades begin to fall as the mining horizon deepens.
Oxide ore is treated via crushing, milling, flotation, leaching and the SX/EW process to produce a sulphidic and gold bearing flotation concentrate as well as electro-won cathode copper.
Gold recovery by gravity was expanded by the addition of four new gravity concentrators in April 2010, thus providing two concentrators per milling train, and increasing gold recovery from all ore types. Gemini tables were installed to treat the gravity concentrates and produce a high-grade concentrate for direct smelting to gold bullion.
Expansion in production capacity from 2012 to 2017 includes:
Production in 2014 is expected to be between 255,000 and 270,000 tonnes of copper, and 145,000 and 160,000 ounces of gold.