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Kansanshi


The Kansanshi mine, the largest copper mine in Africa, is owned and operated by Kansanshi Mining PLC which is 80% owned by 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.

Mining and Processing

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 high pressure leach 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. Mixed ore is treated through the original sulphide circuit while the expansion circuit is dedicated to the treatment of sulphide ore.

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. The oxide treatment capacity was increased to 14.5 million tonnes per annum with the installation of equipment from Bwana Mkuba copper SX/EW plant in 2012 and the commissioning of additional leach, solvent extraction, electro winning and CCD thickeners during 2013 and 2014.

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.

Commissioning of the Kansanshi smelter commenced in Q3 2014, and first anodes, from melted cathodes, were poured December 28, 2014. The smelter achieved commercial production July 1, 2015. Primary processing steps include smelting, converting, fire refining and casting.

The smelter has a nominal capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per annum of concentrate to produce over 300,000 tonnes of copper metal annually and more than 1.0 million tonnes per annum of sulphuric acid as a by-product. Acid production from the smelter permits the Kansanshi process plant to process mixed cleaner tails through the leaching circuit and produce additional cathode.

2016 Facts and Stats:

  • Total copper production (tonnes): 253,272
  • Gold produced (ounces): 148,220
  • Type of mine: open pit
  • Current estimated mine life: 17 years
  • Employees: 1,700

Outlook:

Production in 2017 is expected to be approximately 248,000 tonnes of copper, and approximately 145,000 ounces of gold.