Zambia’s Baluba copper mine plans to double annual finished copper output to about 40,000 tonnes per year over a period of five years starting in 2011, its Chinese owners said on Tuesday.

Luo Xingeng, CEO of China Nonferrous Mining Corporation (CNMC), which owns Baluba, said the firm planned to raise output from the 21,000 tonnes the mine produced before its closure.

“Our production will be 20,000 tonnes starting from next year and in the next five years we are projecting…40,000 tonnes of finished copper per annum,” Luo said in a statement.

The mine also plans to ramp copper ore ouput up to 20,000 tonnes per day by 2010 from the current 5,000 tonnes per day.

Baluba resumed output two weeks ahead of schedule on December 15 after CNMC modernised the copper processing plant.

The company said in November it had spent about $70 million on the rehabilitation and replacement of equipment and expected to complete the overhaul of the processing plant, which had not been renovated for many years.

The mine started blasting for copper in August, having exhausted all the developed underground reserves when it was closed and placed on care and maintenance last December.

CNMC says it plans to spend a total of $400 million on Baluba and its Mulyashi project, which has yet to be developed.

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