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Acid Plant Database  July 21, 2020

Owner Kansanshi Mining PLC

Location 10 km north of the town of Solwezi
Background 80% - Kansanshi Mining PLC (a subsidiary of First Quantum)
20% - ZCCM
Website www.first-quantum.com
Plant Kansanshi Copper Smelter (KCS) Sulphuric Acid Plant
Coordinates* 12° 5' 2" S, 26° 23' 50" E
Type of Plant Metallurgical
Gas Source Copper Isasmelt
Peirce-Smith Converters
Plant Capacity 4500 MTPD 
SA/DA 3/1 DA
Emissions SO2: <300 ppmv
Status Operating
Year Built 2015
Startup March 2015
Technology Outotec GmbH
Contractor Construction: Kansanshi Mining
Remarks -
General -
References Mumba, B., de Vries, D.and Mohsler, S.Zambia’s Newest Copper Smelter and Sulphuric Acid Plant", Sulphur 2015, pp. 178-193

Mumba, B.
and Louie, D.K., "One Year of Operation for Kansanshi’s Sulphuric Acid Plant", Sulphur 2016, pp. 201-212
News July 21, 2020 - Jiangxi Copper sold 1.2 million shares in First Quantum Minerals last week according to SEDI filings, BMO reports.  The Chinese company bought its equity stake in the miner in December 2019.  BMO analyst Jackie Przybylowski said the move did not come as a surprise.  “We have seen the relationship between First Quantum and Jiangxi strained since late last year,” the analyst said in a research note to clients.  The mining analyst note that First Quantum’s partnership with Jiangxi “was initially intended to fund an expansion at Kansanshi while continuing to allocate operating cash flows towards debt repayment. However, the actual necessity of a smelter expansion and the timing of when this would be required is unclear. Management had promised to put out a technical report on the smelter expansion in March, but that has been delayed until tentatively sometime later this year.”  Przybylowski said one consequence of Jiangxi’s move is a “lower probability that First Quantum is taken out” and “with Jiangxi no longer involved, the ‘takeout premium’ that can sometimes boost the First Quantum share price should be lowered.”  Nevertheless, she is maintaining her ‘outperform’ rating on the company and her one-year price target of $12.50 per share. At press time in Toronto, First Quantum’s shares were trading at $13.18 within a 52-week range of $4.72 and $14.12.  In a worst-case scenario in which First Quantum is unable to finance an expansion of its smelter, she said, production growth from Cobre Panama “would serve to offset the declines in Zambia.”  Cobre Panama, which began production in 2019, is one of the largest new copper mines globally. The operation, 120 km west of Panama City, includes two open-pit mines, a processing facility, two 150 megawatt power stations and a port.  In the first quarter of the year, First Quantum reported consolidated copper production of 195,285 tonnes, a 43% year-on-year increase, including a contribution of 56,240 tonnes from Cobre Panama.  Its Kansanshi smelter in Zambia processed 329,946 dry tonnes of copper concentrate, produced 80,280 tonnes of copper anode and 315,000 tonnes of sulphuric acid.

April 20, 2017
- One of the newest and most advanced copper smelters in the world is not in China or Canada or the United States, but right here in Zambia. This $900 million marvel of technology, which started operating in early 2015, is situated at First Quantum Minerals’ (FQM) Kansanshi Mine in North-Western province, just outside Solwezi.  The smelter was tailored to Kansanshi’s own design specifications and built in record time. It was brought to full production in an unprecedented five months. Thanks to its superior technology and processes, it has an annual production capacity of finished copper anode that ranks it among the top smelters in the world.  The new smelter has impeccable environmental credentials: it efficiently converts its sulphur dioxide off-gas (a by-product of the smelting process) into sulphuric acid, which is a vital chemical ingredient in the treatment of oxide copper ores. This recycling means Kansanshi gets over a million tonnes of “free” acid every year – a substantial seven-figure saving, given that acid costs around $150 a tonne on the open market, if available. Kansanshi now operates the largest single metallurgical off-gas sulphuric acid plant in the world.  “Acid was the real driver behind our decision to build the smelter,” says Simon Hunt, one of the Kansanshi engineers who played a key role in the design. “We also had a huge stockpile of smelter-grade copper concentrate – around 200 000 tonnes – that we couldn’t turn into finished copper because of a lack of smelting capacity in the region.”  A smelter is essential when copper is produced from sulphide-copper concentrate, but not every mine needs its own smelter. It is a massive investment, takes years to design and build, and is expensive to operate and maintain.  That’s why most copper mines in the world limit their mining activities to extracting copper ore from the ground and taking it through the first stage of processing until it emerges as copper-sulphide concentrate – a greyish-black powder that contains around 25% copper. The concentrate is then transported to the nearest smelter to be turned into finished copper, at an agreed smelting fee.  “Although most copper mines don’t require their own smelter, there was a compelling case back in 2011 for Kansanshi to build one,” says Hunt. “Firstly, Kansanshi’s production of copper concentrate was rapidly increasing. Secondly, FQM’s new Sentinel copper mine in nearby Kalumbila was under construction and would soon be producing copper concentrate. And thirdly, there was an urgent need for acid to treat oxide copper ore in our processing plant.”  The year was 2011. The decision to build the smelter had been approved by the FQM board. Kansanshi swung into action. The smelter wasn’t purchased “off the shelf”, but was built to very tight design specifications. Kansanshi sent three of its top engineers to Canada to liaise directly with the engineering design company there; the trio – Simon Hunt, Lawrence Hanschar and David Devries – have a collective 80 years of global experience in the design and operation of smelters. They worked right through the design, construction, commissioning and start-up of the smelter.  “We were embedded in Toronto during the entire design phase, which is not always the case,” recalls Hanschar “We were intimately involved in the design of every single part of the smelter – right down to the positioning of pipes, stairs and walkways.”  The smelter design was completed within two years – quick by world standards. Given the scale of the project and the tight deadline for completion, Kansanshi brought in the best skills it could find – both locally and internationally – to ensure construction happened quickly, safely and to the right standards.  The workforce wasn’t the only international aspect of the project; the technology was too. The smelter’s specialised equipment comes from 11 different countries – Canada, Finland, Germany, Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, China, Malaysia, Turkey, Indonesia and the Philippines.  The construction of the smelter ran from 2012 to early 2015, and represented a mini-economic bonanza for Solwezi. It provided work for well over 3 000 Zambians – from mining contractors to builders. The resulting injection of cash and salaries into the local economy had a significant multiplier effect on employment and the growth of new businesses, shops and supermarkets.  “By March 2015, the smelter was fully operational and producing its first copper – just over 5 000 tonnes,” says Hanschar. “Five months later we were up to 23 000 tonnes a month, just shy of the maximum rated capacity. That rapid ramp-up was unprecedented by world standards. We surprised even ourselves.”  It took barely five months from the start of smelter operations for Kansanshi to use up the entire 200 000-tonne stockpile of copper concentrate that had been lying around, not earning any money for the mine – or the country.  By August 2016, the smelter was treating equal proportions of copper concentrate from Kansanshi and Sentinel, and comfortably turning out 28 000 tonnes of finished anode copper a month. The smelter played a key role in Kansanshi’s excellent 2016 financial results, when the mine produced some of its best quarterly production figures and again emerged as the mining industry’s largest taxpayer – contributing $168 million (K1.75 billion) in 2016 in Mineral Royalty Tax and corporate income tax.  The strategic significance of the smelter cannot be understated. Firstly, given that North-Western province’s three copper mines already produce more than half of Zambia’s copper, it seems only fitting that the region should finally have its own smelter.  Secondly, when combined with the country’s other smelters (at Chambishi, Mopani and Konkola Copper Mines), the new Kansanshi smelter entrenches Zambia’s position as the African country with the largest installed copper-smelting base – ahead of South Africa, and even further ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the continent’s largest copper producer. The four smelters give Zambia the ability to produce around 1.2 million tonnes of finished copper a year – comfortably above current production levels of around 750 000 tonnes a year.  However, given the current upswing in the copper price as global copper demand starts to take off again, this margin of safety is not likely to last very long – barely five years, assuming a modest 10% year-on-year annual increase in copper production.  “Mining is a long-term business, and the industry needs to start investing in future smelter capacity now,” says Hanschar.  Kansanshi’s smelter was designed to be expanded; tie-ins have been installed and areas for future equipment already allocated. A further big investment would enable its production capacity to rise from the current 300 000 tonnes of finished anode copper a year to 500 000 tonnes or more. However, this decision has to be weighed against the risks currently clouding the investment horizon in Zambia – notably the continued high overall tax burden on the industry, and the critical lack of an affordable, reliable supply of electricity. When the decision to build the smelter was taken in 2011, these factors were less of an issue, and the investment climate was therefore a lot more favourable.  These constraints notwithstanding, the success of the Kansanshi smelter demonstrates yet again the importance of long-term thinking and bold investment decisions in the survival and growth of the Zambian mining industry.


June 25, 2015
- First Quantum Minerals Ltd. is pleased to provide the following update on the ramp-up progress of its new copper smelter in Zambia.

- The ramp-up continues to progress well ahead of expectations.
- Since the start of hot operations in mid-February 2015, daily throughput of copper concentrate has steadily increased.
- The daily copper concentrate throughput currently averages 3,000 tonnes with periods in excess of the 3,500 tonnes per day nameplate capacity.

- Feed to the smelter is currently comprised of a mixture of stockpiled and fresh concentrate from our Kansanshi mine and fresh concentrate from our new Sentinel mine.
- The benefits to Kansanshi are increasing as the ramp-up progresses:
   - Its concentrate inventory has been reduced to 29,600 tonnes of contained copper from 59,900 tonnes at the end of the first quarter of 2015,
   - over 180,000 tonnes of sulphuric acid have been produced by the smelter and used in the mine's oxide and mixed circuits and,
   - the mine's C1 cost of production has been lowered to between $1.36 to $1.25 per pound from an average of $1.77 in the first quarter of 2015.
- Training for the 600-person workforce is well advanced.
- Given the progress to date, commercial production is expected to be declared in the third quarter of 2015 - ahead of the previous expectation of the first quarter 2016.


"We are very pleased with the performance of the smelter. The achievement of over 100% of nameplate capacity, in just three months from startup, is unprecedented. It is a credit to the design and project teams and illustrates the strong capabilities of the operations management and staff," noted Philip Pascall, First Quantum's Chairman and CEO."The smelter's value to our Kansanshi mine in particular is already very evident. For the first time in several years, the mine is able to operate without the constraints of limited availability and widely-fluctuating sulphuric acid prices and the lack of smelter capacity in Zambia."At our new Sentinel mine, commercial production on the entire facility is expected in the third quarter 2015 following delivery of the full power requirement which is on track for August. This, together with the smelter will complete a significant phase in the expansion of our production capacity," Mr. Pascall concluded.

May 1, 2015
- F
irst Quantum Minerals Ltd Friday reported a drop in profit in the first quarter of 2015 as it limits production in its mines in order to lower sulphuric acid consumption.  The company reported a drop in gross profit to USD26 million in the three months to March 31, down from USD282 million in the same period in 2013. Sales dropped to USD650 million from USD891 million.  It said its performance was in line with its guidance for the first quarter in which it said it expected the mine's output during the period to be at its lowest for the year, as it intended to limit sulphuric acid consumption, and hence production, until free acid became available as a by-product from its smelter.  First Quantum added that it is making progress with subsequent reduction in the Kansanshi mine's copper concentrate inventory while by-product sulphuric acid from the smelter is being used in the mine's processing facilities in higher volumes earlier than anticipated.  Likewise, the ramp-up of the Sentinel mine is steadily improving as the wet season in the region eases, it said, while construction of the Cobre Panama project continues to make good progress with overall detailed design around 65% complete.  "With the uncertainty on prices for our main metals, we continue our efforts for the company to withstand a period of prolonged lower metal prices while maintaining our ability to build future production," Chief Executive Philip Pascall said in a statement.

December 27, 2013
- KANSANSHI Mine says it will save about US$150 million annually once the new copper smelter is in operation and produce sulphuric acid as a by-product.  Kansanshi Mine, which is owned by First Quantum Minerals Limited, says the sulphuric acid is intended to be used in the solvent extraction/electrowinning (SXEW) process, thereby eliminating the need to purchase sulphur.  This is according to a statement posted on First Quantum Minerals website recently.  “The expansion of the Kansanshi Mine oxide circuit to 14.5 million tonnes annually was completed with the first plating of copper cathode in 2013. Full utilisation of this expanded SXEW, processing capacity is expected once the new Copper smelter at Kansanshi is in operation and providing sulphuric acid,” it says.  The statement says the expected savings to the mines operating costs is about US$150 million annually.  Meanwhile, construction of the new 1.2 million tonnes-per-annum copper smelter was approaching peak levels with commissioning intended to start in the second quarter of 2014, with the ramp-up continuing this year.  It says the smelter is expected to operate at 80 percent of its design capacity by mid-2015 and achieve full capacity in the first quarter of 2016.  “The new smelter would process a combination of concentrate from both Kansanshi and the new Sentinel mine. Output was budgeted at more than 300,000 tonnes of copper and one million tonnes of sulphuric acid a year,” it says.  Kansanshi noted that, in addition to the expected savings related to producing sulphuric acid, the proximity of the smelter to the mines was expected to benefit the company’s overall transportation costs by between US$130 million and US$200 million a year.

December 10, 2013
- Philip Pascall, First Quantum's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, "First Quantum is in the midst of a significant expansion to the business, comprising six major projects. The first of these, an expansion to Kansanshi's oxide circuit, was recently successfully commissioned. The remaining projects are in various stages of development with two expected to start contributing strongly to the Company's production and profitability over the next 12 months."These are all significant investments in the business and we are focused on making sure they are executed as efficiently and responsibly as possible. The update on the Cobre Panama project early in 2014 will be the culmination of a comprehensive review and re-engineering of all aspects of the project's development to ensure an appropriate return on investment and the most efficient use of our financial and human resources. We had intended to publish the update earlier, however we have had to correct a number of acquired technical and logistical shortcomings so it is taking slightly longer than anticipated. Nevertheless, our priority is to make sure this project is positioned to allow its development to proceed in accordance with our exacting standards."The optimization of our balance sheet to provide the most suitable and cost efficient financing arrangements for our business strategy is a prime focus as we continue to work with our relationship banks. An important objective in this process is to achieve investment grade rating by the time the six major projects have been completed."First Quantum has an excellent track record, built over the past 13 years, of delivering major projects on-time, within budget and at lower capital cost per tonne of production than the industry norms. With the development plan we have to deliver this current expansion, we believe our track record of leading performance and results will continue to generate superior benefits to our stakeholders.


- The expansion of the Kansanshi mine's oxide circuit to 14.5 million tonnes per annum was completed with first plating of copper cathode in November 2013. Full utilization of this expanded solvent     extraction/electrowinning ("SXEW") processing capacity is expected once the new copper smelter at Kansanshi is in operation and providing sulphuric acid as a by-product. This by-product is intended to be used in the SXEW process thereby eliminating the need to purchase sulphur to produce sulphuric acid. The resulting expected savings to Kansanshi's operating cost is approximately $150 million1 annually.

- Construction at the new 1.2 million tonnes-per-annum copper smelter is approaching peak levels. Commissioning is intended to start in mid-2014 with ramp up continuing during the year. The smelter is expected to operate at 80% of its design capacity by mid-2015 and achieve 100% in early 2016. It is intended to process a combination of concentrate from both Kansanshi and the new Sentinel mine, currently under construction. Capital cost for the smelter is projected to be approximately $690 million and production is budgeted at over 300,000 tonnes of copper and 1 million tonnes of sulphuric acid annually. In addition to the anticipated savings related to the production of sulphuric acid, the proximity of the      smelter to the mines is expected to benefit the Company's overall transportation by between $130 million to $200 million2 annually.

- The Sentinel project continues on schedule and on budget towards commissioning in the second half of 2014. Construction of the required two power lines and a substation is underway. The first power line, due       for completion in mid-2014, is expected to provide sufficient power for initial start-up production while the second is expected to support full operations on its completion in the latter part of 2014. At an estimated capital cost of $1.9 billion, Sentinel's capital cost per installed tonne of production is approximately 6,335, one of the lowest in the industry.

MTPD - Metric Tonne per Day           STPD - Short Ton per Day
MTPA - Metric Tonne per Annum      STPA - Short Ton per Annum
SA - Single Absorption
DA - Double Absorption

* Coordinates can be used to locate plant on Google Earth