Friday, October 25, 2013

Govt anticipates rise in copper production
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Mon 30 Sep. 2013, 14:00 CAT

COPPER production in Zambia is this year expected to increase by at least 31,000 metric tonnes from last year as renewed investor confidence blossoms, says mines permanent secretary Dr Victor Mutambo.

Zambia produced 819,000 metric tonnes of copper in 2012 and preliminary indications are that 850,000 metric tonnes of the metal which accounts for 78 per cent of the country's foreign exchange receipts would be mined this year.

"Following the change of government in late 2011, there were some sections of society around who thought that Zambia was probably going to nationalise the mines," Dr Mutambo said in an interview.

"So, if in 2012, we had about 819,000 metric tonnes, then we will be above 850,000 metric tonnes. We know that some mines like Kansanshi mines have stepped up production, Lubambe mines has come on stream and also the Muliashi Mine in Luanshya. From where we stand, we have seen a resurgence of mining activities in the country."

He said the focus of the ministry in the last two years had been to reform the issuance of licences for mining rights to eliminate bureaucracy and improve transparency levels.

"If you go to the cadastre system, there are no lines that side anymore," Dr Mutambo said. "We found a backlog of mining rights applications which was not properly explained...and we have even gone further by fully computerising operations so that within a short period of time, we can go online. And because of that, within this shortest possible time, we have even attracted mining giants like Anglo American Corporation, who have come back. Vale are also prospecting for mining rights as well as Rio Tinto. So, when you see these big mining companies coming back, in essence, they become our ambassadors outside because the investor worldwide realises that in fact, things have become better."

He said the government would continue to pursue transparency in the mining sector as it sought to increase participation of Zambians in the vast mining sector.

"Any company that is doing right business, there is nothing to hide. If you have got a loan and if it was obtained from a mother company based in another company, you should be able to say this loan I got it from a mother company," Dr Mutambo said.

"And this is what that SI 55 has achieved because it means the companies would not have to get fake loans. Most of these mining companies are listed on the stock exchange and the rules are the same, they have to be transparent. So, there is nothing that government has done which is against the international norms."

And Dr Mutambo said the government last month replaced the 1995 mining policy to address the imbalance which had resulted in low participation of Zambians in the country's lifeblood.

"The Minerals Resources Development Policy of 2013 is going to emphasise the rejuvenation of the small-scale mining sector," said Dr Mutambo.

"Zambians should be empowered to own these mines whether at small-scale level or large-scale. Participation could be by way of ownership or by way of having shares in the new mines. We want to continue creating the same conducive environment and putting the same emphasis that the mining sector will continue to be private sector-driven."

The 1995 mining policy came into being as a result of the government's intention to transform the mining sector into a private sector-led industry.

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