January 14, 2003

Copper production increases

Zambia has produced 309,654 tonnes of refined copper in the 11 months ending November 2002, against 270,158 tonnes during the same period in 2001, the Central Bank says in a report released last week.

The Bank of Zambia said Cobalt production marginally dropped to 3,760 tonnes for the same period from 3,827 tonnes output during the 2001. The Bank said Zambia reduced its cobalt exports to 3,789 in the 11 months to November from 4,082 tonnes that same period in 2001. The figures include sales from stockpiles. The report shows the country's total copper production for the month of November 2002 was 32,000 tonnes while exports for finished copper the same month stood at 32,424 tonnes. The Central bank puts the finished copper exports at 303,947 tonnes between January and November 2002 compared to 271,821 tonnes during the first 11 months of 2001.

Market analysts attributed the high copper production in 2002 to increased demand particularly from China. "China had a high demand of copper for its telecommunications infrastructure but demand became flat when China completed building some projects," says Ignatius Chicha, the head of treasury at Citibank Zambia limited. Chicha said sagging demand for cobalt particularly from the high tech industry, had caused prices to fall on the international market. "The price for cobalt crushed, as the last time I checked (in December) it was at 6.5 dollars per pound from above 7 dollars per pound earlier on. The high tech industry which is the major market for cobalt, no longer requires a lot of cobalt while the cost of production for the metal has been rising," Mr Chicha said. (The Times of Zambia, Ndola)

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