Copper production in Zambia, Africa’s largest producer, declined 13% in January 2010 due to mine closures.

Zambia earlier projected a production rate of one million tons by 2011 with new mines due to open and expansions and upgrades taking place at existing mines, according to Reuters.

The country produced 54,518t of copper in January this year against 62,621t in the same month last year.

Copper exports for the month, however, increased to 56,676t versus 55,199t produced in 2009.

University of Zambia head of mining engineering Mathias Mpande said output was hit because there was no production at Luanshya mine, while production at Mufulira almost collapsed and there were problems at the Nchanga open pit.

The country’s copper production in 2010 is expected to be around 70,000t due to a positive price outlook.