Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Scott calls for value addition to minerals
By Kabanda Chulu
Thu 20 June 2013, 14:01 CAT

ZAMBIANS will only become real owners of the mining sector if value addition to minerals by local people is improved, says Vice-President Dr Guy Scott.

And Vice-President Scott has assured mining companies that amendments to the Bank of Zambia Act are not aimed at bringing back exchange controls but effective tax scrutiny.

Meanwhile, Mopani Copper Mines chief executive officer Danny Callow yesterday said there was need to address infrastructure development which is a fundamental requirement for successful mining operations.

Officiating at the 3rd Zambia International Mining and Energy Conference and Exhibition in Lusaka under the theme 'Developing Zambia's mining and energy sectors towards 2020', Vice-President Scott said the government was elected by people not to extract minerals but to see to it that locals benefit from mining activities.

"Our interest is to provide an enabling environment where people become full beneficiaries of the minerals by having access to jobs, fair payments of taxation and this can only be done through local content initiative whereby Zambians start playing a key role in adding value to minerals," he said.

"When I was growing up in the Copperbelt, we used to see massive factories producing this or that for the mines but now everything is imported including simple things like gum poles and mill balls, we want to see Zambian value addition whether foreign owned company or not, manufacturing should be done locally."

He said Zambians were capable of manufacturing high quality products as could be seen by many local people that had been 'poached' to work overseas.

"Recently, I was in India and found a cadre of skilled Zambian miners doing a lot of work which can be done here, so for us to become real owners of the mines, and to become full beneficiaries, we need to see local content initiatives," Vice President Scott said.

"Of course, we are doing something as government, this can be seen with the various projects being undertaken by Zesco to enhance power supply and also the roads infrastructural projects as well as construction of skills training centres."

He said the government was committed to ensuring a good working relationship with the private sector.

"We are losing out billions through illicit financial flows, we want to know real owners of these offshore companies and the G8 Summit is timely and we are in line with the expected outcomes of improving transparency and increased access to revenue," he said.

"Some people are not saying the truth; it is not exchange controls but tax scrutiny, the money is not ours but it is our entitlement as tax beneficiaries and it is not true that changes to the BoZ Act will take economy backwards but we are going forward and we are not blind to the fact that the private sector are drivers of economic growth."

And Callow said the mining sector was growing rapidly and its growth comes with a huge demand for infrastructure development.

"It is estimated that global production of copper will reach 20 million tonnes by 2020. Zambia's copper production alone is expected to reach 1.5 million tonnes by 2016 when a number of current projects being developed by the mines come on line," he said.

"This phenomenal growth in copper production will only be sustained by a sustainable source of reliable and affordable energy and associated infrastructure, such as roads, railways and water and sewerage treatment."

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