COPPERBELT and Northern Western provinces have for long been known to be Zambia’s mineral lifelines, but, recent discovery of similar and vast reserves in two of the country’s provinces, has cheered the Government.
Recently, Copperbelt was renowned to be Zambia’s mineral belt-chiefly reputed for various copper deposit, but, with concerted efforts through various explorations undertaken, with the help of the donor community, Luapula and Northern Provinces have been cited as the country’s ‘hidden’ mineral treasures.
Although initial reports indicate that the two regions, all in the north of Zambia have vast reserves of various minerals, including gold, diamond, copper and nickel deposits, the Government wants to be sure of their existence through thorough expert determination and ensure Zambia’s reputation as Africa’s top copper producer, is retained.
Minerals, energy and water development minister Christopher Yaluma says although there are indications of vast reserves of various minerals in Luapula and Northern Provinces, the Government wants to be sure and determine the extent of the minerals in these ‘little known’ area.
To that effect, the Government plans to issue prospecting licenses for various minerals in the two provinces soon following the recent completion of the mapping exercise undertaken by the Government in collaboration with some Chinese experts.
Yaluma added that the Government is currently awaiting a report that will determine whether there are mineral deposits in the targeted areas before issuing licences to potential investors to start exploration in these two provinces.
It is the Government’s conviction, based on the recent reports by the Chinese and geological experts that Luapula and Northern provinces areas have potential of gold, diamond, copper and nickel deposits and that the report availed to Government will determine the extent of the minerals.
The Chinese Government had facilitated funding for the initial explorations in the two provinces and based on the same report, there are plans by the Zambian Government to consider issuing exploration licences to prospective investors to undertake exploration in the two areas to determine the extent of the assumed reserves for various minerals, Yaluma added.
“The Chinese government extended funding for the mapping of Luapula and Northern Provinces. The exercise has been done and now [we are] waiting for the data before mineral exploration can start,” he said.
It is hoped that the discovery of minerals in two provinces will supplement mineral activity in the country and increase revenue from mining, which has been one of the country’s major earners of foreign exchange over the years, although the mineral lifeline is concentrated in areas like the copperbelt and until recently in north western provinces.
It remains the Government’s desire to support mineral exploration as mineral sustainability is key in the economic development of the country. The Zambian governmentseeks to remain focused in the mining sector to enhance local participation.
Zambia recently revised the country’s mining policy which is seen as the stepping stone for promoting participation in the industry from the locals in the entire mineral value chain.
“The mining policy will give direction on the future of the mining industry in the areas of local participation in the entire value chain,” he said.
Government recently awarded various local and foreign based companies explorations licences in various provinces to exploit for among other resources, oil and gas. The provinces include Eastern, north western, Southern, Copperbelt, among other areas where it seeks to maximize on the potential of the various areas to tap into such resources that have remained unutilized, costing the country revenue to import.
Zambia, being a landlocked country, has been paying dearly to import crude oil products mainly from the Far Eastern countries for onward processing into various petroleum products, including petrol, kerosene, Jet A1 fuel and diesel.
However, the importation of the crude oil has cost the country dearly as the costs have been borne by the end users of such petroleum related products, a situation that has ultimately affected the cost of living in the country as the higher the cost of petroleum products, the higher the cost of living among the people.
To cushion the impact on the cost of living among the more than 13 million people, the Government has in recent months been considering venturing and promoting the production of various biofuels and fossils as an alternative to importing crude oil.