Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) will invest $1bn in expansions and upgrades in Zambia to become a 400,000t-a-year copper producer by 2012.

The investment will be spent on the refractory ore project and mill upgrades at Chingola, the development of the bottom shaft loading facility at the Konkola deep mining project, and exploration, according to the company.

Konkola CEO Kishore Kumar said Zambia has huge copper resources and that the firm has planned an aggressive exploration programme in the next two to three years.

“It is our desire that our operations must expand beyond the existing boundaries. Additional areas will be required to carry out exploration for increasing the mineral resource base,” he said.

KCM’s mine life has been extended to 2035 from 2012, after developing new projects, including the Konkola deep mining project that is expected to come on stream in 2012.