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Zambia expects to find new Mopani copper mine investor by year-end

Agrees to buy Glencore’s majority stake, taking on R22.3bn in debt to do so.
Mines minister says companies from the UK, Canada, China, Qatar, South Africa and Turkey have shown an interest. Image: Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg

Zambia’s mining investment arm ZCCM-IH expects to find a new investor for Mopani Copper Mines by the end of the year, the company and its top shareholder, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), said on Wednesday.

ZCCM-IH agreed on Tuesday to buy Glencore’s majority stake in Mopani, taking on $1.5 billion (R22.3 billion) in debt to do so. The state-owned company is seeking an external investor to fund expansion projects at the mine, which it hopes will boost annual copper output from a little more than 34 000 tonnes to 150 000 tonnes.

“We expect a strategic equity partner will be identified before the end of 2021,” the IDC told Reuters.

ZCCM-IH CEO Mabvuto Chipata said he agreed with that target.

The investor will be expected to take a majority stake in Mopani and complete expansion projects at a cost of $300 million, mines minister Richard Musukwa said on Tuesday, adding that companies from Britain, Canada, China, Qatar, South Africa, and Turkey have shown an interest.

As part of President Edgar Lungu’s policy of greater state control over mines, the stake on offer will not be as high as the 90% held by Glencore and First Quantum Minerals through Carlisa Investments Corp, a British Virgin Islands-based company.

The minister did not specify how large a stake is on the table.

Zambia’s IDC, a government agency charged with promoting industry, holds 60% of ZCCM-IH while the ministry of finance has a 17% stake and the National Pension Scheme Authority holds 15%.

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