LUSAKA - Zambia's government has shortlisted companies that have submitted binding offers for Mopani Copper Mines and wants to select a new investor by July 31, its mines minister said on Friday.

Sources told Reuters last month that China's Zijin Mining and Norinco Group, South Africa's Sibanye Stillwater and an investment vehicle owned by ex-Glencore officials had been shortlisted in the race to buy Mopani.

Mines Minister Paul Kabuswe declined to give details at a press conference on which companies had made the shortlist.

Switzerland-based commodities giant Glencore sold a 73% stake in Mopani to Zambian state firm ZCCM-IH in 2021 for $1.5 billion in a deal funded by debt, but it retained offtake rights of Mopani's copper production until the debt was repaid.

Kabuswe said the government was also finalising talks with Vedanta Resources to try to end a dispute over Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and will likely resolve the dispute this month once one outstanding matter has been agreed.

Selecting a new investor to buy Mopani and resolving the dispute over KCM that has dragged on since 2019 could help Zambia achieve its ambition to triple copper output over the next decade, Kabuswe said.

"Production at KCM is not as it should be because it is lacking (a) capital injection," he said.

"Within July, we should be able to break that one point (outstanding) and we will be able to tell you this is the transaction."

KCM, which owns one of the world's richest copper deposits, the Konkola Deep Mining Project, has battled to attract investment since relations between Zambia and Vedanta broke down, culminating in the government taking over the assets and a forced liquidation in May 2019.

(Additional reporting by Felix Njini; Editing by Alexander Winning and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)