President Rupiah Banda said government is developing measures to mitigate the adverse impact of the global credit crunch on the mining industry.
President Banda said the measures are intended to address concerns raised by the mining companies in order to reduce job loses and develop a mechanism to salvage mining operations.
He said this in a speech read for him by Vice President, George Kunda, at the official opening of the 2009 African Mining Congress (AMC) in Livingstone yesterday.
Mr. Banda said although the economic meltdown has adversely affected the economy, particularly the mining sector, government will remain committed to get the country onto a firm economic base.
Mr. Banda said he was happy with the confidence from some investors who are willing to invest in the mining sector in Zambia despite the prevailing global economic problems.
He observed that despite the fall in metal prices, investors have not been deferred their investment plans in the country.
He said the long term view for the sector is that the world’s demand for the metals, mainly driven by India and China, is likely to rebound and bring back mining operations to normal.
The President said it is government’s policy to ensure that the business environment remains attractive for further investment in the country.
He said in the medium and long terms, Zambia will continue to attract investors in the mining sector due to its conducive investment atmosphere.
He noted that Zambia still offers some of the best incentives in the mining industry such as exemption from custom and exercise duty on all mining equipment and machinery imported for mining purposes.
President Banda has further expressed confidence that the congress would provide a framework for business people from southern Africa and other regions to discuss and share ideas on the future of the mining industry on the continent in the wake of falling metal prices on the world market.
He urged Southern African states and the continent at large to consider coming up with a common approach to issues of taxation and environment which are key to sustainable development of the mining sector.
He said the southern African region has much to gain from the development of their mining economies through employment, taxation and other benefits, adding that the mining sector will only be sustained through enhanced cooperation.
Mr. Banda said the decision to continue hosting the congress in Zambia is good for the region because it will help develop the mining sector and therefore contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of the people.
Earlier, AMC Chairperson, Michel Ashby, said the sector has continued to contribute positively to human needs.
She said despite the various downturns that the mining industry has gone through, there is still hope that it will still return to normal operations.
She said Zambia plays an important role in the production of minerals for the global market.