Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) announced in late June 2011 it had completed the sinking phase for the new shaft 4 at its flagship Konkola Deep mining project in Chililabombwe, Zambia, a town located near the Zambia-Zaire border. The shaft has been sunk to a depth of 1,505 m. With shaft sinking completed, the next phase of the project will be equipping the shaft.

Konkola Deep shaft 4 is the first major shaft to be sunk in Zambia since the nation gained its independence in 1964. It is the deepest shaft in Zambia and will have the largest hoisting capacity of any shaft in southern Africa. The announcement the shaft sinking had been completed made note of the fact that implementation of the Konkola Deep project had continued through the recent global economic downturn, when several mining companies operating in Zambia suspended their projects.

The Konkola Deep project is one element of on-going expansion programs at KCM’s mines in Zambia to increase production to 400,000 mt/y of copper by 2012 (E&MJ, January-February 2011, p. 18).

In other news, KCM reported in June that Wartsila, of Finland, has installed three 8-MW diesel generator sets to provide backup power for KCM operations in the event of failure of power supply from the national grid. This 24-MW of new capacity, coupled with the existing 20 MW of gas turbine capacity at Konkola and the 10 MW of gas turbine capacity at Luano, both of which belong to the Copperbelt Energy Co., is expected to provide enough power to operate pumps used to drain uncontrolled water from the Konkola Deep project in case of grid power failure.

The Konkola mine is one of the wettest mines in the world, with around 350,000 m3 of water drawn every day from its underground operations. KCM discharges the water to the Kafue river, where it helps keep water levels high during the dry season.

KCM also reports it has signed a training agreement with Sandvik for the training of 46 KCM employees in critical skills required for efficient and smooth running of its operations, especially in key new projects. Under the agreement, Sandvik will provide 52 weeks of multi-skilled training in maintenance and operation of Sandvik loaders, dump trucks and drill rigs.

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