Commerce Minister Felix Mutati has disclosed that Government has so far attracted mining investment in excess of U$$4.5 billion. Mr. Mutati has predicted that the mining production will reach 1 million tonnes in the next two years. Mr. Mutati said this investment has resulted in increased copper production of 750,000 tonnes per year from 250,000 tonnes.
He said the mining industry has brought a new decade in the country’s economy where investment has consolidated the industry with new projects being undertaken by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), Lumwana, Milyashi and Kansanshi mines respectively.
Mr. Mutati was speaking in an interview with ZANIS in Kitwe on Saturday. This was shortly after touring selected stands at the ongoing 53rd Copperbelt Agriculture Mining and Commercial show (CAMCS) in Kitwe under the theme” 2010, a new decade renewed hope”.
He said it was encouraging to see a number of exhibitors rising from 75 to 100 this year, an indication that people have taken the diversification programme very serious as the theme translates. The Minister also said the surplus food supply was stable for the country which entrepreneurs could take advantage of, if only they added value to their produce and exported it.
He nevertheless pointed out that there were challenges which could affect the expected economic growth in the mining sectors but was quick to note that Government was addressing the matter with the seriousness it deserved. Mr. Mutati assured that once the challenges were addressed, there would be an increase in foreign direct investment with value addition to local products, supply of goods and quality jobs created among the locals.
He noted that the expansion of the mining activities in the country including the energy sector in its current form may not be able to cope up with the pressure and this called for more investment in the next five years. The Minister outlined among other challenges as power shortfall which he said was likely to affect mineral production.
And he disclosed that Government was considering revamping the railway transport especially the opening of the Angola route on the western coast to cater for Lumwanma and Kasanshi mines.