Mopani Copper Mines Plc has implemented a number of programmes aimed at empowering and building capacity of local contractors and other small and medium enterprises in Zambia. The Company is encouraging formation of joint venture partnerships between local contractors and internationally-recognized and well-established foreign firms wishing to do business with the mining company. This has cheered the local contractors who have commended Mopani for coming up with the initiative.
One such joint venture supported by Mopani is between Shawonga Enterprises Limited of Zambia (33.3%) and ZINPRO Engineering of South Africa (66.7%). The two have partnered to form ZINPRO Zambia Limited, a company specialized in Shaft and structural steel rehabilitation works. ZINPRO Zambia has been engaged by Mopani to undertake massive refurbishment of the shaft infrastructure which Mopani inherited in a highly dilapidated state at privitisation.
Mopani Chief Executive Officer explains the company’s policy on joint ventures and the benefits that will be derived from supporting these partnerships:
“We have a deliberate policy that encourages foreign manufacturing companies wishing to do business with us to partner with local companies or involve Zambians in their shareholding structures. This, we believe, will help to build capacity of local companies, encourage skills transfer and give a competitive edge to the local firms whilst improving quality and efficiency,” said Mr. Callow.
Mr. Callow said initially attention was directed at improving processing plants and that time had come to address mining related issues.
“At privitisation we inherited highly dilapidated infrastructure both on surface and underground. Our major focus initially was to upgrade the Smelter to eliminate SO2 emissions and improve its efficiency. This project was completed 15 months ahead of schedule in March 2014 and is currently doing very well.
“Our focus now is to improve efficiency and productivity of underground operations. Maintenance of vertical shaft infrastructure is a highly specialised job and there is lack of local skills in this regard due to many years of lack of investment. Every month Mopani loses about 6000 metric tons of copper due to shaft shutdowns to facilitate maintenance.
“By bringing in shaft experts, ZINPRO Zambia Limited, Mopani will address the problem of frequent shutdowns and achieve continued production and less maintenance costs. This will also make shaft maintenance skills available in Zambia through the exchange that will take place as a result of the partnership,” Said Mr. Callow.
ZINPRO Zambia Operations Director, MrLondon Mwafulilwa has hailed Mopani for coming up with the initiative of supporting joint ventures. He has reiterated that the move will benefit all stakeholders involved, including the nation.
“First and foremost this venture is important to our Company because we are able to realize the full potential of the skills that are available, blend them with those of experienced hands and be able to participate in improving productivity in the mining industry as well as grow the mining support base. We are also able to provide employment and develop the local skills of the Zambian personnel,” said Mr Mwafulilwa.
He also reiterated that by partnering with ZINPRO Engineering, the local company has been able to upgrade its profile and working culture and expects a lot of future benefits.
“The ZINPRO Team has brought on board experience and an adorable working culture which most of our technical people do not have. The approach to how we look at the entire business has changed because we now drive solutions as compared to merely seeking contract opportunities.
“In the long term, there will be appropriate technology transfer and in the next 5/10 years we should have in the country dependable and reliable teams to be able to manage such projects without external expertise.”
Mr Mwafulilwa appealed to other local contractors to be consistent and prove their worth as opposed to seeking quick rewards. He further commended Mopani for the initiative.
“It is important for local contractors to remain focused and concentrate on their core business. This is the only way the mining industry will benefit from their input as they become specialists in their fields.
“Shawonga Enterprises Limited has been consistent for over 22 years of operation and therefore gained the necessary recognition from the players in the industry to a point where we are now able to contribute positively to the growth of the industry.
“I would like to commend Mopani for supporting such ventures as they create sustainable growth and support for the mining industry which can then be passed on from generation to generation. This is good not only for the mining industry, but the country as a whole especially that such specialised skills are getting fewer and fewer globally.
In order to promote efficiency in mining, Mopani is promoting other joint ventures between International world class contractors and solid, dependable local Zambian Contractors to form a Zambian owned, world-class mining contracting company by introducing expert skills and resources. This should lead to improved effectiveness and efficiency. The Company is further encouraging value addition and local procurement by empowering local manufacturers of various mining inputs such as cables, mill balls among other things.
Other local contractor development initiatives by Mopani include giving preference to local contractors before a tender can be extended to foreign contractors, Conducting capacity building workshops and trainings in addition to creating new business linkages for local contractors by assisting them to do business with other sister mines across the borders.
“Formation of joint venture partnerships, where Zambian companies take an equity stake, and add significant Zambian expertise to the newly formed company, create a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Empowering local contractors is a great step forward in developing the mining industry in Zambia in line with Government’s local content strategy,” Said Mr. Callow.