LUSAKA Feb 8 Canada's First Quantum Minerals
plans to invest over $1 billion in a new smelter and
modernisation of a copper mine in Zambia, a senior Zambian
official said on Wednesday, but the company said the investment
was "very conditional".
Zambia's high commissioner (ambassador) to South Africa
Emmanuel Mwamba told Reuters by telephone that First Quantum
Minerals Chief Executive Officer Phillip Pascal had announced
the investment on Wednesday when he met Zambian officials
attending a mining conference in Cape Town.
First Quantum planned to invest $700 million in a new
smelter whose location the company did not specify and $350
million would be invested in modernising its Kansanshi copper
mine, Mwamba said.
"These are fresh investments which should help boost
Zambia's economic growth," Mwamba said.
First Quantum owns 80 percent of the operator of Kansanshi,
Africa's largest copper mine in northwestern Zambia.
Clive Newall, First Quantum's president, told Reuters in
Canada that the possible new investment was "very conditional".
"Our intentions are at some point to invest a lot of money,"
Newall told Reuters by telephone, without confirming the $1
"But there are a number of conditions that need to happen
before we do that, some of which are our own, you know balance
sheet issues," he said. "Some are practical: We are building a
very major project in Panama, which is taking up a lot of our
"We need demonstrable fiscal stability in Zambia over a
period of time before we do it," he said, summarising what he
said First Quantum had told the Zambian officials.
Zambia proposed measures in November to curb its budget
deficit at a time when slumping commodity prices have seen the
country face mine closures, rising unemployment, power shortages
and soaring food prices.
First Quantum had invested $5.7 billion in Zambia as of 2015
with $2.6 billion going into the Kansanshi Mine, $1 billion in
the Kansanshi smelter and $2.1 billion in the Trident Project,
which includes the Sentinel and Enterprise mines.
First Quantum has asked a Zambian court to dismiss a $1.4
billion claim by a state-owned firm, which accused the Canadian
company of irregular transactions with its local subsidiary,
according to court papers.
(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Additional reporting by Nicole
Mordant in Toronto; Editing by James Macharia and Adrian Croft)