Copper Mining in Africa

Copper mining in Africa goes back as far as antiquity, where copper was a main commodity used in art, as currency, and most importantly, in the making of bronze – a copper alloy made by smelting and adding tin. Copper production lulled for centuries during the Middle Ages, during which the use for copper as burial ornaments became ever more popular in Mesoamerica.

Today, copper is well-known to be a soft, ductile metal which is highly thermally- and electrically-conductive. Copper also has aesthetic qualities. These properties create a large, worldwide demand for the metal. Copper is used in various alloys, in construction, art, and in electrical systems, as Copper is the second most electrically conductive metal – apart from pure gold. Copper is also a trace element in living organisms, making up 1.4 to 2.1 grams per kilogram of human body mass.

Currently, Africa Mining IQ has over 100 projects that involve copper mining in Africa. These projects range from grassroots to fully operational and Africa Mining IQ guarantees to include mine owner contact information for each project listed in its database. This ensures that you get only the most accurate and up-to-date information for your business. For more information on additional features and benefits of subscribing to Africa Mining IQ please contact us today on +27 11 830 2132.

Various mining methods were developed specifically for copper mining in Africa. These included the development and use of trolley-assist haul truck systems in open cast mines. Methods for copper mining in Africa also began to include in-pit crushing, and computerised truck dispatching. Underground ore extraction is also a typical method of copper mining in Africa.

The beneficiation process typically begins at the comminution stage, where mined ore – from open cast mines or underground mines – is crushed into small particles. Particles are then separated to remove any gangue. The following steps involve the physical liberation of metal from the rock by either the hydrometallurgical liberation process or the froth flotation methods, depending on whether the ore is oxide ore, or sulphide ore, respectively. The now concentrated ore is smelted for further refinement, eventually reaching purity levels of between 99% and 99.5%.

Industrial-scale copper mining in Africa typically goes back as far as 1966, to when the Palabora Mining Company opened the first open-cast copper mine in South Africa, known as the Palabora Copper Mine. This mine is iconic for copper mining in Africa, as it is one of the largest and the deepest open cast mines in the world.

The main copper-producing countries are Zambia, South Africa, and the Katanga Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which typically dominate copper mining in Africa. In 2008, Zambia produced 502 998 tonnes of copper, South Africa produced 89 700, and the DRC produced 131 400. This, against a global production of 15.8 mega tonnes in 2009.

Copper mining in Africa is furthermore supported by numerous mines throughout the continent, including the Bou Azzer mine near Marrakech, Morocco, the East province mine in Cameroon, the Selebi Phikwe mine in Botswana, and the Chibuluma West and South mines in Zambia.

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