The European Union-funded Mineral Production Monitoring Support Project has been applauded for improving the country’s mineral production monitoring
“You’d get contrasting sets of figures, sometimes varying by up to 40%, depending on whether you were asking, the Central Statistical Office, the Bank of Zambia or the Zambia Revenue Authority,” said Mooya Lumamba, Director of Mines at the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources recently.
“But that’s all in the past. Today, thanks to the work of the European Union-funded Mineral Production Monitoring Support Project, Zambia’s mineral production monitoring capability has changed beyond all recognition, and that sort of ambiguity no longer exists.”
The €5.37-million (K67-million) is a four-year programme funded by the European Union to improve economic governance by strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development to monitor mining and mineral activities in the country.
Government is relieved that more accurate information means royalties on production can be determined with greater confidence – not just on copper, but on other minerals too, including gold and gemstones.
“Before the project started, we were severely hampered by a lack of funding,” says Lumamba.
“We did not have the tools and expertise to conduct proper verifications. Our testing facilities and laboratory equipment had become dilapidated.”
Ron Smit, the chief consultant on the project says the skills were there, but the system itself wasn’t working well.
“The laboratory was particularly bad, with outdated or broken equipment. The reporting requirements for mining companies were too broad, and needed to be more detailed and specific. A complete change was needed.
The most visible aspect of that change today is the newly refurbished laboratories at the Geological Survey Department, where water-reticulation systems, electrical wiring and air-conditioning have been repaired or replaced.
The chemistry laboratory has received brand-new equipment that includes handheld XRF Analysers, (which can analyse the mineral composition of rocks or powder simply by being pointed at a sample); Ultra-Violet Visible Spectrophotometers (which can analyse a wide range of solutions containing metal ions and organic compounds; and various microscopes (which are able to analyse gemstones such as emeralds, sapphires and rubies).
Laboratory technicians are being trained in how to use the equipment correctly while more equipment is being procured this year.