Friday, September 07, 2007

Govt won't bow to traditional leaders over mining -Nkhata

Govt won't bow to traditional leaders over mining -Nkhata
By Lambwe Kachali
Friday September 07, 2007 [04:00]

GOVERNMENT will not bow to traditional leaders over mining issues, mines deputy minister for small-scale Boniface Nkhata has said. And chief Shakumbila of Mumbwa district has accused the Ministry of Mines of not being transparent in the way mining prospecting licences were being awarded.

In an interview after meeting chiefs from Mumbwa who demanded that Luiri Gold Mines Limited, which is operating in Mumbwa district, releases 50 per cent of the land it is occupying to other interested investors, Nkhata said his ministry had put a monitoring period which should be observed.

He also said the ministry had developed a 'castral system' which he said was a computerised system that helped the ministry to monitor the improvement of land for mining development by investors.

"I think there is a big misunderstanding between the chiefs and Luiri Gold Mines. The period we have put in place now is from 1st July to 30th December, 2007. During this period, we will not allow any investor whether foreign or Zambian to apply for a mining licence. And this is a period when most investors are releasing fifty per cent of the prospected land to government," Nkhata said.

He said it would be against the mining Act to force Luiri Gold Mines to release part of the occupied land to the government before the expiry of the period given to them.

"Come next year January, everyone will be informed to apply for mining licences. To us it will be first come, first serve," said Nkhata.

But chief Shakumbila, who was in the company of chief Moono and a representative of chief Mumba said the ministry had been favouring foreign investors.

"Even when giving licences, most Zambians who want to invest in Mumbwa are denied to be given," he said.

Chief Shakumbila said Luiri Gold Mines was occupying 2,400 square kilometres of land.

"They are not in Mumbwa for copper. They are there for gold. This is why we want government to act," he said.

Luiri Gold Mines country representative Harry Sibbenga expressed surprise at the behaviour of the chiefs. Sibbenga said the aim of their company was to develop the district and not to cause confusion.

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