Leon Coetzer. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Leon Coetzer. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

Jubilee Metals is on the cusp of starting the production of copper and other base metals, including lead, in Zambia from its Kabwe project. 

London-based law firm Leigh Day, which contests human rights cases, has teamed up with Johannesburg-based law firm Mbuyisa Moleele to prepare a class-action case on behalf of communities around Kabwe and will file it in the Johannesburg high court after a two-year investigation into lead poisoning in communities around the defunct mine.

Anglo, which ran the Kabwe mine between 1925 and 1974 when it was nationalised and run by the government for 20 years, has pointed out the mine has been held by the Zambian state for 40 years and said it did not believe it was responsible for “the current situation”.

Jubilee has bought tailings and a refinery plant in Kabwe and will begin producing copper cathode before the end of 2019, with zinc and vanadium output starting before June 2020 and the third quarter of the same year, respectively. Lead will start flowing before the end of that year.

“The tailings from the processing operations were discarded at site but without the proper containment infrastructure both from an air and groundwater pollution point of view, which has created environmental problems to the surrounding population,” Jubilee CEO Leon Coetzer said.

“This situation is ideal for the Jubilee team to exploit through implementing its processing operations to create value from the metal rich tailings, while alleviating the environmental issues.”

There are an estimated 6.4-million tons of tailings at Jubilee’s Kabwe project, which contain 356,843 tons of zinc, 351,386 tons of lead and 1.26% equivalent vanadium pentoxide.

Kabwe will deliver 250 tons of copper cathode a month at the start of production at the Sable refinery, ramping up to 400 tons a month from the second quarter of 2020.

Using the cash flows from copper sales, Jubilee will build zinc and vanadium refining circuits at Sable, which will deliver 8,000 tons of zinc concentrate a year and 1,500 tons of vanadium pentoxide annually.