Anglo American Returns to Zambia After 11 Years to Tap Copper

Anglo American Plc has returned to Zambia, Africa’s biggest copper producer, to explore for the metal after exiting the country 11 years ago.

Anglo is operating in northwestern Zambia where the government granted it two exploration licenses in December, Pranill Ramchander, a spokesman for the London-based company, said by e-mail.

Copper producers are looking to expand geographically after prices for the metal, used in plumbing and wiring, more than doubled in four years. Traditional mines have become depleted, spurring companies to explore new areas or revisit former locations to keep pace with demand growth.

“Anglo American sees Zambia as highly prospective for a number of commodities but is currently only interested in copper,” Ramchander said yesterday. The company is undertaking early-stage reconnaissance and may drill this year, he said.

Anglo decided to sell its stake in Zambia’s Konkola Copper Mines in 2002. The business was bought by Vedanta Resources Plc in 2004.

Copper producers in Zambia include Glencore International Plc, Barrick Gold Corp., First Quantum Minerals Ltd. and Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. Rio Tinto Group has a copper exploration joint venture in the country.