Zambia’s Geology one of the world’s most important and complex metallotects
- Geologically the country is blessed with an abundance of mineral resources. In the late Proterozoic Lufilian terrain of north-western Zambia, possesses one of the worlds most vital and complex metallotects hosting gigantic reserves of copper-cobalt ore, together with gold, uranium, nickel, lead-zinc, iron and manganese.
- The complex geology and multiplicity of techno-thermal events reflects Zambia's distinctive position effectively sandwiched between the Kasai, Zimbabwe - Kaapvall and Tanzania cratons. Differential movements between these stable blocks, together with their buttressing effects, have played an important role in the geological evolution of the country and hence in the development of the country's mineral and energy resources.
Zambia Africa’s largest copper producer and a significant cobalt producer.
- Copper production is the engine of the Zambian economy providing 63 percent of its total foreign exchange. Whilst plunging copper prices in 2008, affected the Zambian economy, a strong rebound is taking place which bodes well for the future, copper has gained almost 87 percent in London this year, after plunging 64 percent in the second half of 2008.
- Cathode copper output in Zambia rose to 349,333 tonnes for the six months to June 2009 compared to 288,057 tonnes in the same period last year.
- The government forecasts that copper production will rise to over 600,000 tonnes this year from 569,000 tonnes the previous year.
Combined reserves and resources of copper-cobalt ore in operating mines of the Copperbelt exceed two billion tonnes and these have mostly been delineated for exploitation after privatization of the industry has been completed. Some what similar styles of copper mineralization, variously containing gold, uranium and cobalt, are evident in the Domes Region to the west of the Copperbelt and are attractive exploration targets.
- In spite of a long history of copper mining, Zambia still has abundant copper resources in both newly discovered deposits (such as Lumwana and Kansanshi deposits in north-western province) and in the existing mines, where production has recently expanded under foreign ownership. Medium-term prospects for growth of world markets for copper are favourable.
- Cobalt production has declined to 1,690 tonnes in the first six months of 2009 from 2,230 tonnes in 2008. Even if the export of cobalt has declined, the increase in the price of cobalt has compensated for this.
Gold significant exploration possibilities exist
- Gold deposits exist in Zambia and are mesothermal lode deposits. Most are localized within structures related to the Mwembeshi Shear Zone in central Zambia.
- In eastern Zambia, key targets related to the Mwembeshi Shear Zone include areas where it traverses the restricted occurrences of volcanosedimentary rocks (eg. Sasare area) and also the offset zones related to the West Mvuvye and Chindeni Dislocations
- Within the Zambezi Belt south of the Mwembeshi Shear Zone, thrusting and faulting of the complex Basement-Muva-Katanga terrain was accompanied by widespread de-watering, resulting in the genesis of a considerable number of gold prospects, screening of which could pinpoint optimum potential in terms of host structure and country rocks..
- In north-eastern Zambia a similar lode-gold potential, not yet investigated, exists within the Luongo Fold and Thrust Zone, the Chambeshi Fold and Thrust Zone, and the Shiwa Ngandu Fold Zone,
Other Base Metals and Rare Metals
- Zinc and lead deposits discovered to date are hosted entirely by carbonate rocks occurring stratigraphically at the Lower Roan - Upper Roan transition. Considerable potential remains in the Kabwe area, and the Katanga-age carbonate sequences northwest of Mumbwa offer a similar potential.
- Substantial resources of iron have been identified, mostly in lower Katanga successions, and the requirement here is for thorough evaluation of known deposits within the context of potential demand from burgeoning Zambian industrial and manufacturing sectors and a wider demand throughout central Africa.
Gemstones: A better export potential than copper or cobalt?
- Zambia has an abundance of precious and semi-precious gemstones. These include emeralds (the second largest deposit in the world), tourmalines, aquamarine and amethyst (Africa’s largest deposit), garnet and malachite
- Zambia has begun to gain world recognition as a supplier of gemstones. This sector with the right policy environment, appropriate infrastructure and institutional support, has an export potential greater than the current value of copper and cobalt exports. International demand for gemstones is strong, not only in Europe and North America, but also in South-East Asia
- The occurrence of diamonds and indicator minerals in Zambia highlights the considerable exploration potential. The most favourable terrains are the stable cratonic Bangweulu Block and possibly the Kabompo area of western Zambia where alluvial diamonds are particularly abundant.
- The rift-related kimberlites and associated rocks of eastern Zambia have limited potential as they were probably derived from thermally eroded, and hence diamond-depleted, mantle.
Uranium: new law opens up uranium exploration in Zambia
- The greatest potential for uranium appears to be vein and disseminated mineralization hosted by Lower Roan and Upper Roan sequences underlying some of the copper ore bodies of the Copperbelt and Domes Region.
- Known uranium deposits exists in the in the Karoo sediments of the Siavonga area in the Mid Zambezi Valley.
- In October 2008, Zambia enacted a new law on the mining, storage and export of uranium.
- The law covers the prospecting, mining and milling of uranium and other radioactive mineral ores, and grants all powers to the mines minister to issue licences for the mining and export of uranium.
- This new law is clearly a benefit for the fledgling uranium sector in Zambia, setting the legal framework for uranium mining in the country. As a consequence, inward investment will develop into this sub-sector of the mining industry increase over the coming years.
Other resource potentials in Zambia
- Iron: exploration for iron in North Western, Lusaka and central provinces.
- Nickel: development of nickel mine at Munali Hills, near Kafue gives opportunities for further exploration.
- Industrial chemicals – limestone,
- Manganese: in northern and central parts of the country, all deposits with high ore content ranging between 48% and 54%
- Tin: Mostly from the Choma Tin Belt in Southern Province, Mporokoso, Lundazi, Mkushi
- Phosphates: Petauke in Eastern Province1.6m tonnes; Mumbwa at least 700,000 tonnes; Rufunsa at least 200 m tonnes; Isoka town, at least 200 million tonnes.
- Other Industrial minerals:
- Limestone – Lusaka, Kabwe, Ndola, N/Western, Northern, Luapula
- Ball and Brick clays – Solwezi, Serenje
- Silica sand – Kapiri Mposhi for Glass.
- Feldspar: Deposit near Siavonga and Kapiri Mposhi
- Dimension Stone: Grey and white marbles – Lusaka, Solwezi, Mpika, Chipata