Vedanta Base Metals Chief Executive Officer, Chris Griffith, is reported to have been talking to a range of financing partners to raise money for a restart of its Konkola Copper Mines(KCM) unit in Zambia, including the sale of a minority stake in KCM.
He said on Wednesday at the Mining Indaba in South Africa, according to Mining Weekly, that Vedanta would remain the majority shareholder in the unit if a minority stake was sold.
Zambia agreed last September to return control of KCM to Vedanta, which is owned by Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal, ending a row over the ownership of the assets that erupted in 2019 when authorities seized the mines.
Vedanta would retain a majority stake and operational control in KCM, in which the Zambian government also owns a 20 percent stake through State firm ZCCM-IH.
Griffith said the financing could be raised in stages and much would depend on the structure of the deal.
From the historical background, ties between Zambia and Vedanta soured after former President Edgar Lungu’s government orchestrated the seizure of the KCM assets and forced liquidation in May 2019, after accusing the company of failing to meet plans to invest in increasing mining output.
According to Reuters, since then operations had nearly ground to a halt and the operations were “heavily loss-making”.
Vedanta could raise copper output at KCM’s mines to about 200,000 tonnes after taking over operational control of the assets.
“We have a plan, we know what needs to be done, so the moment we get the keys back, we start,” said Griffith, a South African mining veteran, who was appointed to run the base metals unit last year.
He said while Vedanta had pledged about $1 billion in spending at the operations over five years, it did not need to raise all the financing in one go.
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