The Chamber of mines in Zambia, a consortium of foreign mining companies operating in the copper rich southern African state seek to partner with other players in the industry for comprehensive and accurate information on the production of minerals as the country grapples to increase production.
The chamber of mines is courting the Zambia Revenue Authority, Central Statistic Office and the Ministry of Mines to improve on the production data, says its Chief executive officer Maureen Dlamini.
She noted that Zambia’s drop to eighth position as largest producers of copper in the world, while its neighbor Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo sits pretty on first position following its improved performance in mineral production last year.
The chamber which oversees the interests of various players in the industry as well as monitors the overall performance of the copper and mining sector in Zambia believes time is up for improved data production and compilation for the sector to grow, as Zambia strives to boost its mineral production to 1.5 million tons per annum in about two years from now.
“We are working with various stakeholders to improve on the production
data for the mining industry and we want the information to be sitting
at the Ministry of Mines,” Dlamini told reporters at a workshop organized by the chamber and held in Lusaka, July 17 noting that accurate production figures for the sector were cardinal.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had displaced Zambia as the seventh largest producer of copper, having produced over 913,000 tons last year, dropping Zambia into second slot, a position the country has held over the past 26 years, but has slipped owing to various factors including ‘frequent’ policy shifts in the sector, which many attribute as some of the fundamentals.
Chile remains high on the global rating according to recent data compiled while Zambia has slumped to eighth position from seventh it held until recent, where the country was poised to inch to fourth position-best in the world, all policies and stakeholders remaining aptitude.
According to Dlamini, the shift in the ranking was attributed to high cost of production of the red metal, Zambia’s main foreign exchange earner, a development the Government wants reversed to agriculture, the metal being a wasting asset.
Accordingly, DRC was now producing more copper than Zambia, saying their costs of production were much lower, noted Dlamini stating that with everything remaining equal, Zambia was expected to produce 1.5 million tons of copper by 2016.
At the same meeting, chamber’s president and one of Zambia’s mining engineers, Emmanuel Mutati reiterated that in excess of US$8 billion had been invested in the sector since the privatisation of the mines by the new owners, adding that the investments were spent on upgrading of the infrastructure and operations of the mines.
Most of the resources were spent on new mines and for expansion of the operations.
“This has been most noticeable in the North-Western Province. Resulting from this investment, annual finished production has risen from a low of 257,000 tons per annum to over 700,000 tons in 2013,” he said.
The country had great exploration potential for copper and other minerals as evidenced by the flurry of activity in most parts of the country and also the number of international companies engaged in prospecting activities.
This was critical for the continuous inflow of Foreign Direct Investment in the mining sector, Mutati added.