UPDATE 1-Zambia's 2016, 2017 copper output seen flat at 700,000 tonnes

Mon Feb 29, 2016 4:48am EST
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(Adds details, Revenue Authority)

LUSAKA Feb 29 (Reuters) - Zambia's copper production will be around 700,000 tonnes this year and next year before rising to 1 million tonnes in 2018, a top government official said on Monday.

Copper production in Africa's second-biggest producer of the metal inched higher to 711,515 tonnes in 2015 from 708,000 tonnes the previous year mainly due to a new mine owned by Canada's First Quantum Minerals.

"We are likely be in the same level as last year because the pricing of copper has been consistently low and some mines have frozen production," Mining ministry permanent secretary Paul Chanda told Reuters.

Chanda said Zambia's copper production would jump to about 1 million tonnes in 2018 when prices of the metal were expected to start rising.

Zambia also launched a pilot project for introduction of a new system under which mining companies would be required to report their production electronically.

Zambia Revenue Authority Commissioner of Customs Dingani Banda said during the launch that the new system would improve accuracy in reporting of mineral quantities and quality by mining companies.

"Overall we expect that these measures will enhance collection of revenue," Banda said.

Banda said the new system would start with Chambishi, Launshya and Lubambe mines before rolling it out later this year.

Other mining companies operating in Zambia include Glencore , Vedanta Resources and Barrick Gold. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by James Macharia)