First Quantum Minerals has committed US$50 million next year for longer-term repairs on the Chingola-Solwezi road as part of the public-private partnership.
In a statement, FQM head of government affairs John Gladston said the mine is spending US$2 million on stabilising the 180 kilometre road before the onset of the rains.
“The company is expecting to spend a further US$50 million next year for longer-term repairs…the mine has pointed out that its expenditure is in addition to the US$3 billion paid to the state in taxes in the last ten years, and is particularly significant in the context of the current depressed world copper prices and a mineral royalty tax that is higher than global industry norms,” Gladston stated.
“This road is the most strategically important economic artery in Zambia. Around 60-70 percent of the country’s mineral wealth travels along this road which has been allowed to degenerate into a parlous state. Yet again this year, First Quantum have undertaken emergency action to stabilise the road before the rains wash it away into the mud, thereby protecting the economic wealth of the nation.”
He added that FQM had invested about US$3.6 billion in developing the Kansanshi mine and smelter since 2005 and employs more than 8,500 people.
Gladston said FQM was also currently commissioning the US$2.1 billion Sentinel Mine at Kalumbila, 120 kilometres west of Kansanshi.
“Kansanshi produced 227,000 tonnes of copper and more than 136,000 ounces of gold in 2015. It paid K1.74 billion of taxes to the government in 2015, excluding PAYE,” stated Gladston.
And finance minister Felix Mutati toured FQM’s Sentinel Mine on Saturday where he said such an operation didn’t need to have power challenges.