Exploration Companies need to tap into vast unexploited mining resources as part of the diversification from the mono-commodity copper mineral and assist develop the sector’s operations in the country, says mines and mineral resources minister Christopher Yaluma.
The spreading of exploration activities in unexploited areas will assist Zambia; Africa’s leading copper producer to accelerate its development for the betterment of its people.
Officiating recently at the seventh Association of Zambian Exploration Companies (AZMEC) forum in Lusaka under the theme: ‘Zambian Exploration-New Policies and Development’, said the country needs a focused and strategic approach to harnessing the country’s mineral endowment as a catalyst for social and economic development.
This can be achieved through the country’s commitment to ensuring sustainable exploitation of its mineral resources for the benefit of the people, enhance a free market enterprise economy and an application of modern principles of transparency, checks and balances and accountability through strengthened mining laws and regulations.
Other principles are an adherence to regional and international conventions and other instruments that are relevant to mining to which Zambia is a party to or a signatory as well as the promotion of citizen economic empowerment.
Mining worldwide depends on the continued existence of economic mineral deposits and through exploration will such deposits be discovered and as such, there can be no mining without exploration.
It is therefore important that exploration and matters affecting it are placed at the centre stage of any policy discussion about mining because this is the means through which the industry sustains existing operations, and expands into new frontiers, Yaluma added.
Mining, which remains the country’s mainstay calls for the Government to ensure more investment is attracted into the sector and ensure its growth. It is the Government’s desire that the sector remains the main catalyst to social and economic development through inclusive, responsible and sustainable practices by all actors in the industry.
The Government envisions ensuring the industry embraces the country’s collective aspirations to develop entrepreneurial acumen by Zambians becoming more involved in the development and ownership of mining projects.
It is further the Government’s desire to see communities around mining areas develop mutual partnerships with investors to promote and protect their well-being and livelihoods.
“We want to see mining play a major part in our general economic development through supporting the local business sector to bring prosperity to Zambia.” Yaluma said.
Exploration, being vital in the development of any mining project in the country’s mineral resources development policy, Government seeks to ensure it takes advantage of its vast endowment of its mineral resources by facilitating further discoveries that will result in development of more mining operations.
To ensure it is achieved, the Government seeks to expedite geological mapping of remaining untapped parts of the country; promotion of exploration for energy minerals, including oil and gas to diversify the energy resources.
It seeks to spread the benefits of mining across Zambia; promotion of exploration for industrial minerals to enhance industrial development and the maintenance of a stable and internationally competitive fiscal regime that adequately caters for volatility in international mining industry but serves the interests of the Zambian people.
Additionally, the Government wants to put in place a robust, efficient and transparent system for administering mining rights in the country through the establishment of an efficient and computerized mining cadastre system to help resolve the many challenges experienced by shareholders once and for all.
Yaluma says it is against this background that the Government is reviewing the Mines Act and ensures the objectives outlined are set out in the legislative framework for the sector.
The spreading of mining development across the country whether at exploration, development or operational stage must be carried out with full sensitivity to other stakeholders and host communities?
The Government will strive to ensure it creates an enabling environment for all players to carry out their operations and provide necessary checks and balances and ensure it is done in full compliance with the laws and interests of the country.
“On your part, we expect nothing short of compliance and support to existing institutions and local communities, so that when all is said and done, we can truly conclude that our mining sector is a catalyst for the much needed development of our country.” Yaluma said.
Ealier, AZMEC president Nathan Chishimba urged the Government to come up with a clear cut policy direction on the mining sector and ensure it achieves its intended objectives, noting that the sector has not been given the attention it deserves to flourish.