Africa’s copper mine industry will continue to grow and output will soon double to around 2 million tonnes, according to engineering and construction firm SNC-LavalinUK Ltd.
“The African Copperbelt is the powerhouse, it’s where the big future copper projects will be,” said Tim Smith, SNC-Lavalin vice-president for copper and GM Mining & Metals.
“We’re heading for 1,5 to 2 million tonnes a year in the Copperbelt up from just over 1 million tonnes last year,” Smith added, addressing delegates at Metal Bulletin’s African Copper conference in London.
But he said this would not ease the global shortage of mined concentrates.
“These projects are so far from the coast it’s got to be smelted locally,” he said.
Around 15% of SNC-Lavalin’s revenue comes from Africa and the region is the second biggest centre for its project activity. It is handling C$15 billion (US$14,96 billion) of projects in Africa.
Smith said securing resources, such as project and site managers, to work on projects was a challenge.
“These people are hard to get. It’s an issue still and it’s coming back to haunt us.”
He said mining majors had taken steps a few years ago to avoid such shortages. They had agreements with big engineering firms to ensure that part of their company worked exclusively on their projects.
Smith said SNC-Lavalin had procurement systems in place which helped it source materials although doing so in a timely manner remained a challenge. — Reuters