GOVERNMENT and mining firms operating in the country need to coordinate and harmonise their efforts to improve infrastructure development for the needed production expansion, economist, Oliver Saasa has said.
Professor Saasa said poor infrastructure was a major constraint on competitiveness and escalated the mining sector’s cost of production.
“Poor infrastructure is a major constraint on competitiveness and does escalate the mining sector’s cost of production. The absence of dependable infrastructure also constrains the needed production expansion. In this regard, Government and the mining firms operating in Zambia need to coordinate and harmonise their efforts in the area of infrastructure development,” Prof Saasa said.
Prof Saasa said in a case study titled the ‘Economic Impact of the Trident Project’ the major works embarked by the First Quantum Minerals (FQM) in Kalumbila area in North Western Province required significant support.
He said the existing electricity generating capacity was insufficient to keep pace with significant expansion in the mining industry.
“Similarly, the major works FQM is engaged in around the Kalumbila area require explicit support from Government, not least through the provision of a hospitable operational environment that would bring comfort to the mining firm in the spirit of Public Private Partnership (PPP),” he said.
He said the prioritisation by Government regarding the expansion and upgrading of the Solwezi-Mwinilunga Road in a manner that would respond timely and promptly to the growing commercial significance of the Kalumbila area was pivotal.
He said the need to urgently link Kalumbila to the national railway network in anticipation of the large volumes of Copper and Nickel from the multi-billion kwacha, Trident Project.
Moreover, consideration of linking Kalumbila to the national railway network in anticipation of the large volumes of copper and nickel coming from the Trident Project in the near future is urgent.
He said closer integration of transport systems between Kalumbila with the mining cluster in Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo, required exploration.
Prof Saasa said there was need to link the Solwezi-Mwinilunga route through to Angola and down to Lobito as this would also generate substantial value for North Western Province, positioning the region as the new growth engine for Zambia.
He said overall, identifying ways of reducing infrastructure costs required collaboration efforts between mining companies and the Government.
“The result would be reduced total costs and, hence, improved profitability for the mining firms which, in turn, should result in increased revenue to the Treasury through increased taxes,” he said.