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    By James Regan
    SYDNEY, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Australia-listed Anvil Mining NL
    has boosted copper output at its mine in Democratic
    Republic of Congo ahead of major expansion next year, the firm's
    managing director said on Thursday.
    Mine operating costs at the Dikulushi lode have also dropped
    thanks to an increase in ore richness and installation of new
    treatment equipment, Anvil Managing Director Bill Turner told
    Reuters.
    "As a result of these plant modifications, overall
    metallurgical recoveries have increased from approximately 65
    percent to over 71 percent and the grade of the concentrate has
    increased from around 37 percent copper and 870 grammes of silver
    to 41.7 percent copper and 1,048 grammes silver," Turner said.
    The mine, which started operating last October and employs
    nearly 400 people, should yield 13,000 tonnes of copper and
    900,000 ounces of silver in its first year of operation, Turner
    said.
    "For the months of July and August 2003, Dikulushi produced
    6.3 million pounds (2,857 tonnes) of payable copper and 216,000
    ounces of payable silver," he said.
    Installation later this year of additional milling facilities
    will double annual output, he said.
    "We are working on project financing with the Rand Merchant
    Bank for the second stage," he said.
    Work so far at the mine had lowered cash operating costs to
    below 11 cents a pound from 28 cents, reducing total costs to
    39.6 cents a pound, Turner said.

    WORLDWIDE SCRAMBLE
    Commodities analysts estimate on an industry-wide scale that
    costs average around 55 cents a pound.
    "This decline is especially welcome given copper prices have
    gone up," Turner said.
    Copper, used in everything from plumbing to computer chips,
    is up sharply on expectations in world markets of a looming
    shortfall in intermediate mine concentrates for smelting.
    "There is a scramble on worldwide for concentrates," Bob Way,
    an analyst with Australia's AME Mineral Economics said.
    At the COMEX futures exchange in New York, closely watched
    copper for delivery in December <0#HG:> finished 1.45 cents higher
    at 83.20 cents a pound after earlier hitting a record high at
    83.40 cents in the last trading session.
    Congo, formally Zaire, was once one of the world's richest
    source of copper. But it saw capital investment dry up and mining
    activity plunge due to a bloody civil war that has claimed almost
    three million lives since 1998.
    Copper revenues from Congo's state mining giant, Gecamines,
    have evaporated while output has dropped to just a tenth of the
    476,00 tonnes of copper produced 15 years ago.
    This year a transitional government was installed that
    brought in former rebels as part of moves to end the conflict.
    The second stage of Dikulushi will require installing a ball
    mill and flotation circuits to yield a very high grade
    concentrate expected to average 60 percent copper, Turner said.
    The majority of the concentrate from Dikulushi is earmarked
    for processing at Rio Tinto Ltd/Plc's Palabora
    smelter in South Africa, though some material is shipped to
    Ongopolo smelter in northern Namibia, Turner said.
    Anvil traded 13.5 percent, or 2.5 cents, firmer at A$0.21 in
    early afternoon trading, compared with a 0.6 percent gain in the
    broader overall market.
    ($1=A$1.56)
    ((Reporting by James Regan, editing by William Willitts;
    [email protected]; Reuters Messaging:
    [email protected]; +612 9373 1814))
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