PRETORIA – Wednesday, 17th September, 2014 – GOVERNMENT says that it is working on legislation aimed at enhancing value addition to the country’s mineral resources in order to create employment opportunities for Zambians.
Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development, Mr. Christopher Yaluma disclosed this when he spoke at the International Infrastructure and Invest Convention in Johannesburg yesterday.
Mr. Yaluma said Government was revising the Mines and Minerals Act of 2008 and was aiming at promoting value addition in order to enhance benefits from copper and other minerals. The revision of the Act is expected to also, among other things, make it easier for Zambians to participate in all activities across the mining value chain.
He said the law which is also aimed at enhancing a conducive investment climate for mine investors, is meant to encourage value addition activities in the sector and in the process trigger off employment opportunities for Zambians. He said Zambians have “toiled” for long without benefiting from the mines when this had been the country’s major economic activity from as far back as the 1930s.
The Minister said there has been continuous consultation with all stakeholders, including the mining houses operating in Zambia, with regard to the new legislation.
He said the proposed new law was now with the Ministry of Justice and would soon be presented to parliament so that it could be enacted into law before the end of the year.
Mr. Yaluma pointed out that Government’s vision was to have a vibrant, well organised public-private partnership-driven mining sector that would contribute in excess of 20 percent to the country’s gross domestic product.
Some of the other challenges identified which the revision of the Act will address include the unnecessary bureaucracy in the issuance of mining rights; inadequate size and duration of prospecting licences; lack of clearly stipulated appeal procedures, and the lack of provisions to retain a tenement in situations where progression to mine development becomes impossible due to adverse economic conditions or technological constraints.
The Minister, who was later hosted on CNBC Africa’s ‘Beyond Markets’ programme, emphasized the message saying Government wanted to see Zambians participate in activities across all mining stages.
He pointed out that it was estimated that only one percent of the copper produced in Zambia was utilised in the manufacturing sector while the rest was exported unprocessed.
Mr. Yaluma said one of Government’s key objectives, which has also been the cry of Zambians for a long time was to ensure that citizens derived tangible benefits from investments that were being made into the country.
Meanwhile, Mr. Yaluma also disclosed that Zambia’s next biggest economic mainstay after copper will be oil and gas.
Mr. Yaluma, told CNBC Africa’s Godfrey Mutizwa that nine licences were recently granted to successful bidders for gas and oil exploration in Zambia. He said Government was now seriously encouraging exploration for oil and gas and that the country has since been demarcated into blocks following recent preliminary results.
He said the country was trying as much as possible to diversify from copper reliance and that the geological mapping exercise currently underway would help Government understand what other natural resources were available in the country.
Mr. Yaluma said about 40 percent of the country was not mapped, implying that there were areas with unknown potential.
On creation of infrastructure to enhance development in the country, Mr. Yaluma said Zambia was inviting independent power producers to come on board and participate in the sector. He pointed out that Government has been working hard to reverse the power deficit the country was facing noting that 60 megawatts of the 120 megawatts power plant in Itezhi-tezhi will be on stream by the end of the year while another 150 megawatts of thermal power from Maamba Collieries will also be on board soon.
The Government is further working to link transportation routes to networks, such as railway lines, existing in some neighbouring countries so as to reduce the cost of doing business in Zambia.
The two-day conference, which is being hosted by the Hannover Fairs International and the Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is dedicated to the power, transport and water sectors serving the mining industry.
Mr. Yaluma was among various other speakers drawn from the SADC secretariat, top businesses in South Africa and some countries in the region as well as around the world.