CHINESE-OWNED NFCA mining is still awaiting environmental approval from ZEMA to commence development of a US$832 million copper mine project on the Copperbelt, a senior company official said yesterday.

Nelson Jilowa, company corporate relations manager, said the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) has not approved an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project that was submitted in September last year.

"...As soon as we get that approved, we will go ahead," he said in an interview.

The south east Chambishi ore body, located near NFCA's existing Chambishi Copper Mine, is expected to produce 100,000 metric tonnes of copper per year upon completion, creating more than 5,000 jobs.

Jilowa said the project was key to boosting copper production in the country.

Zambia targets to raise copper output this year to 976,733 metric tonnes.

Copper production was 789,382 tonnes as at November 30, 2011.

Meanwhile, Jilowa disclosed that the company has set aside about K1.3 billion to relocate residents who would be displaced by the project.

"The resettlement action plan will guide us on the compensation," said Jilowa.

"But about K1.3 billion has been set aside for the compensation."
NFCA, a unit of China Nonferrous Metals Corporation, already operates several copper mines and plants in Zambia, including the 150,000 tonnes-a-year Chambishi Copper Smelter and the Luanshya Copper Mines.