Metals & Mining News

Vedanta step closer to regain control over Zambia copper assets

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Vedanta Resources Ltd., owned by Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal, said it’s in an “advanced stage” of talks to regain control of a Zambian copper mining complex, four years after it was seized by the government.

“Vedanta is alive to the fact that the talks have taken a little longer than initially anticipated,” it said in a statement on Sunday. “The company is firmly committed to the process.”

The Zambian government placed Konkola Copper Mines Plc, 79.4% owned by Vedanta, into provisional liquidation in 2019, and has since been locked in legal battles with the company over the asset. Former President Edgar Lungu accused the company of lying about profits and expansion plans, before declaring “divorce” with Vedanta and moving to liquidate Konkola. President Hakainde Hichilema’s government has struggled to find a solution since winning power in August 2021.

The dispute has resulted in a slump in production. Vedanta has pledged to invest $1 billion in the assets to double annual integrated production to 100,000 tons of copper, with the potential to boost to 200,000 tons in the medium term.

Production troubles at Konkola have contributed to Zambia’s falling copper output. The finance ministry sees national output of the metal falling to 682,431 tons this year from 763,550 tons in 2022, it said in a report Sunday.

Separately, Konkola struck a deal with Copperbelt Energy Corp., a Zambian power supplier, to resolve outstanding debt. The agreement will see KCM paying the company $20 million in installments. There’s one matter left to agree on before reaching a deal with Vedanta, Zambian Mines Minister Paul Kabuswe told reporters on Friday, without saying what it was. “We are counting days, it’s no longer months,” he said in Lusaka, the capital.

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