Mines: Zambia on right track

THE mining industry remains dear to the hearts of Zambians because it is the blood-line through which our country’s economy thrives.

While as a country we realise the need to reduce dependence on copper exports as a source of foreign exchange, by diversifying the economy, the fact still remains that the mining industry will continue to be an important component of Zambia’s economy.

It therefore gives us a sense of renewed hope to learn that Mopani Copper Mines has made huge investments into two capital expansion projects where deep shafts will be sunk at Mindolo in Kitwe and Mufulira operations at a cost of US$559 million.

What is even more reassuring is that apart from sustaining 3,000 jobs the mines’ lifespan has been extended by 25 to 30 years.

What this means is that the 3,000 miners who would have been offloaded on to the streets will now keep their jobs and these jobs, will remain secure for as long as 25 to 30 years, thereby raising the economic fortunes of the two mining towns.

It also means that for the next 25 to 30 the Zambian economy will continue to benefit from these mining activities in terms of taxes thereby contributing to its Growth Domestic Product (GDP).
It has been projected that copper production in Zambia will reach 1,500,000 tons by the year 2018 due to new projects.

These projects will no doubt go a long way in contributing towards the projected copper output of 1,500,000 by the year 2018.
The shafts, which will be sunk to the depths of 2,000 will make Zambia the host to the deepest mines on the African continent.

According to MCM chief executive officer Johan Jansen, the sinking of the shafts, apart from securing jobs, will also increase ore production from 1.1 million to two million tonnes per annum by 2018 at Mindolo and by 0.4 million tonnes to 2.4 million tonnes per annum by 2022 at Mufulira.

We join President Lungu in commending Glencore, the major shareholder
in MCM, for showing confidence in the Zambian economy through its continued investments in its mines in Kitwe and Mufulira in the midst of local and global challenges.

However, this is testimony that the investment climate in Zambia has continued to be favourable despite the global economic shocks.
This is attributable to the good policies Government has continued to put in place to ensure that the country remains attractive to investors.

The government has been particularly careful to balance increased tax revenue with continued employment and investment in new mining ventures. Other than concentrating on how much revenue Government can rake in from the mining companies, Government has been alive to the fact these mining companies need to sustain their operations for continued benefits to Zambia.
The Zambian government has shown unwavering commitment to ensuring a conducive environment to mines to operate efficiently as well as profitably.
It is no wonder mining companies like MCM can still invest into the Zambian economy amid global and local challenges.

While we appreciate the investment into Zambia’s mining industry, it is also our hope that Zambia will graduate from exporting raw materials.

There’s need to maximise revenue on the natural resources God has so freely endowed us with by adding value to the raw materials.

This calls for revamping of the manufacturing industry in order to process our raw materials into finished products, which will fetch Zambia much more revenue.

However, to revamp our manufacturing industry, there’s need to build our technological capabilities by investing into training as well as infrastructure.

While the journey may look long, it all starts with a step.

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