By Esnala Banda
The launch of the Copperbelt Mining Trade Expo & Conference (CBM-TEC) in Kitwe which took place from 28th – 29th April was a huge success attracting more than 1600 visitors.
Program director Nicole Smith expressed that expectation for the conference were greatly exceeded as the expo attracted 92 exhibitors, 140 conference delegates, including Zambian Vice President Dr Guy Scott and Mining, Energy and Water Development Minister, Hon. Christopher Yaluma.
“We clearly identified a specific need and gap in Zambia’s vital mining industry and managed to fill it with a world class exhibition, high-level attendees as well as a very practical, relevant program which all contributed to CBM-TEC’s real impact. Certainly our expectations were exceeded and we are delighted by the overwhelming welcome we received by Zambia, the mining community and the local media,” she says.
According to Smith, CBM-TEC focused on building a world-class and sustainable mining industry with Zambia poised to increase copper production over the coming years.
“Society as a whole must look at issues such as how to manage the environment but also how best to engage Zambians and Zambian business-owners and manufacturers in the supply chain, so that the mining sector becomes the impetus for stimulating Zambian manufacturing and it becomes the enabler of the growth of Zambian SME’s who can service the sector,” she adds.
She explained that there was discussion throughout on how to balance the ratio of local vs. foreign participation in the sector and that crucial question as to the growth and sustainability of the industry was also raised.
The high-level representation from government and industry proved to organisers that the country is serious about taking the Copperbelt forward.
During the official opening of the exhibition, Vice President, Dr. Guy Scott said the environmental agency’s responsibility was to ensure compliance to environmental requirements by all industries and economic players.
He urged the mining companies to continue dialoguing with the government in an open, frank and transparent manner.
“Let’s be open, let’s be honest and let’s be Zambian. We are not making life difficult for your mining companies, we have obligations to the people… if we do not speak frankly and openly, rumor mongers will start spreading falsehoods about our operations,” Dr Scott said.
He said the government was prepared to work with the mining industry for the good of the country.
Dr Scott was accompanied by Zambia’s Minister of Mining, Energy and Water Development, Hon. Christopher Yaluma, who provided a special address to the conference on the outlook and vision for Zambia’s mining sector.
“It was encouraging to see the excellent participation of key directors within the mining ministry over the two days and the opportunity that was given to the delegates to have a question and answer session with the minister. Another highlight was on day two where we had a snapshot from the key operators in Zambia talking about their expansion projects. On the panel were FQM, Barrick Lumwana, Chibuluma and Lubumbe,” says Smith.
Apart from putting the Copperbelt on the map, the mining hub of CBM-TEC expo and conference. Says Nicole Smith; “Kitwe is a gateway to most of Zambia’s mining region where the operations are based. It was a strategic decision to bring a professional attendance event to the Copperbelt and thereby creating connectivity across the mining value chain. We received many compliments from attendees, exhibitors and sponsors, particularly regarding the quality of the visitors that were walking the expo floor.”
Other delegates at the expo were the Minister of the Copperbelt, the Mayor of Kitwe, the District Commissioner and 11 Directors from the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development. Furthermore there was representation from all the operators: Mopani, Barrick Lumwana, Chibuluma, Lubambe and Konkola Copper Mines. There was also a delegation from the DRC, headed by the VP of the Chamber of Mines in DRC, which provided an excellent opportunity for engagement on cross border issues and opportunities.
Next year’s CBM-TEC: will be held on 5th and 6th May 2015.