Zambia Mining Boom: The Road To 1 Million Tons of Copper

Zinger Key Points
  • Zambia aims to boost copper output to 1 million tons by 2026 despite prior stagnation.
  • Reviving a state enterprise, AI prospecting, and investments in existing mines promise a surge in production.

Zambian, the second-largest African copper producer, hopes to rejuvenate its copper output to achieve 1 million tons by 2026.

Despite its rich resources and ambitious state goals — aiming to produce as much as 3 million tons — Zambia has stagnated as its annual output fluctuated between 700,000 and 880,000 metric tons for over a decade.

The revival of state-controlled Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) after resolving a dispute with India's Vedanta Resources marks a significant step forward.

See Also: EXCLUSIVE – Key Indicator May Flip Global Economic Forecasts — ‘Copper Is Beginning To Define Its Own Narrative

This resolution, coupled with investments in expanding production at existing mines like First Quantum Minerals FQVLF Kansanshi mine and Barrick‘s GOLD Lumwana mine, promises a boost to Zambia’s copper output.

Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane anticipates reaching 1 million tons by 2026, as reported by Reuters.

While initial boosts may come from expanding the existing capacities, a notable novelty is the emergence of KoBold Metals, an AI-powered startup whose discovery at the Mingomba project far surpassed all expectations.

"It won't be just the largest mine in Zambia, but it will be one of the largest mines in the world," President Hakainde Hichilema said in an interview for Bloomberg. Hichilema clarified that a fully operational mine could produce between 500,000 and 600,000 metric tons, placing it behind Chile's Escondida and Indonesia's Grasberg.

Zambia also faces the urgent task of addressing its substantial debt burdens. The nation, which became Africa’s first pandemic-era defaulter, has been diligently negotiating with creditors. While agreements have been reached with official lenders and bondholders, challenges remain, particularly with Chinese creditors.

Zambia’s debt restructuring process, initiated under the Group of 20’s Common Framework, has been laborious.

President Hichilema has emphasized the urgency of reaching agreements, calling his country a "guinea pig" for pioneering the framework. While the World Bank acknowledged positive developments, more negotiations lie ahead, particularly with commercial creditors like Chinese lenders.


Despite the challenges, Zambia remains resolute in leveraging the ongoing commodity cycle as a booster to its economy. Finance Minister Musokotwane reaffirmed the nation’s determination to achieve its copper production target, albeit with adjusted timelines.

"There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that we are going to hit that target of three million tons of copper. Perhaps we may be late by a year or two," he said, pushing the goalpost from 2031 to 2034.

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Also Read: Copper Futures Prices Diverge from Spot Prices, Citi Sets A Two-Year Target

Image: Shutterstock

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