TWO South Korean companies have indicated interest in entering the Zambian mining and energy industries as soon as they conclude consultations. According to the statement released to the media by Nicky Shabolyo, the Press Secretary at the Zambian High Commission in South Africa, representatives from KEPCO KPS and LG International disclosed their interests when they met Zambia’s High Commissioner-Designate to South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba in Pretoria yesterday.
KEPCO KPS Chief Representative, Mr. Jason Lee told the High Commissioner that his company had experience in thermal, nuclear, hydro and solar power plant maintenance technology. He said KEPCO KPS has previously undertaken projects in Madagascar, India, Uruguay, Pakistan, Australia, Philippines Mexico, Bangladesh, Kenya and Morocco and has been working with South Africa’s power utility company, ESCO since 2008.
Mr. Lee said they would be happy to meet relevant officials in Zambia to discuss modalities of how his company could get involved in the Zambian market. He said KEPCO KPS was finalising collection of information so that they could understand Zambia’s situation before making a formal proposal.
“We are ready to travel to Zambia anytime as part of our study before we can confidently make a formal proposal to enter Zambia,” Mr. Lee said.
KEPCO KPS are also looking at maintenance of transmission lines apart from power stations.
And Chief Representative at LG International, Johannesburg office, Mr. Dow Lee said his company was involved in a wide range of projects and had identified various areas of interest in Zambia which include the copper, coal and gold mining sectors.
Mr. Lee said he has been to Zambia before and understood the general situation of the mining sector but would like to travel back to check if opportunities still existed. He expressed concern at the current low copper prices which he said were the major hindrance to exploring the sector.
HE explained that LG International trades in products used in processing gold and believe statistics show that Zambia held good potential for a good market for such products.
LG International, which is a sister company to LG Electronics, is into natural resource development and industrial infrastructure business in emerging countries with growth potential.
In response, His Excellency Mr. Mwamba advised LG International to look at the current low copper prices as an opportunity in itself. Mr. Mwamba pointed out that prudent investors in the commodity market opted to acquire assets when prices were low because they understood that the trend was such that prices for commodities fluctuated.
“You should not be discouraged but instead be encouraged and see an opportunity in the low prices. An investor will always want to enter the market when they can buy at a low price. Commodities are an investment for the long term and you should realize that prices always fluctuate,” Mr. Mwamba said.
He noted that it would be important for LG International to make gold processing materials available in Zambia as this would encourage value addition to the metal unlike the current situation in which it is exported in its raw form.
“We need to start adding value to our raw materials and the Government has set out on this mission so that we can meaningfully benefit from our resources,” He said.
Mr. Mwamba told the two representatives that the High Commission in Pretoria will facilitate their visit to Zambia by arranging meetings with the relevant offices.
The High Commissioner said the proposal by KEPCO KPS was convenient as the country was facing a huge power deficit partly resulting from some old power plants which could not operate at their optimum capacity.
He said transmission lines posed another challenge as most of them were old while they also did not have a wide reach across the country.
“Most of our power stations are old. They can no longer function fully and urgently need to be mordenised. Apart from being old, our transmission lines need to be extended across the country.”
Mr. Mwamba commended KEPCO KPS on their policy of embracing local labour in their projects as this encouraged skills transfer.