Kagem Mining will provide US$345,000 worth of scholarships for students to study mining at the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University under an agreement signed this week.
Minister of Education Hon. Michael Kaingu, Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Hon. Christopher Yaluma; and Minister of Labour and Social Security Hon. Fackson Shamenda were on hand to witness signing of the landmark memorandum of understanding at a ceremony in Lusaka on Friday (September 18).
“Kagem has a framework for sustainability that drives long-term development in partnership with the government and society as a whole. These scholarships demonstrate that commitment and show the company is here for the long-term,” said Kagem Director Dr Sixtus Mulenga.
Under the terms of the scholarship 12 students – six from each university – from the geological and mining engineering departments in their second and third years of study will be selected to receive a comprehensive scholarship for the rest of the duration of their course over a period of eight years. The scholarships will cover the full cost of education including tuition fees, boarding fees, up-keep, clothing and book allowances as well as a medical scheme with Kagem.
Students under the scheme will be accorded internship opportunities at Kagem Mining during their recess as well as an apprenticeship upon completion and further training in areas deemed necessary by the company. They will be indentured to work for Kagem for a period corresponding with the sponsorship period.
The agreements are part of Kagem’s efforts to help the government develop more coloured gemstone industry-oriented graduates that are up-to-date with current technical and theoretical knowledge and mining requirements of the day.
Mr Kaingu said: “Education is a partnership. This initiative supplements government efforts developing the human resources to develop this country.”
However, it can also be noted that training for a career in the mining sector can be a challenge for most students due to the expenses involved. It often takes the dedication of both the parents and well-wishers as well the student and many times it does take a toll on finances. The scholarships themselves will cost $345,000 over the eight years for a total of 12 select students.
The decision by Kagem to roll out these scholarships is timely as the mining sector in Zambia needs such development in order to transform the sector by finding solutions to the current challenges facing it as well as innovative ideas to advance the sector to world standards.
Speaking on behalf of both universities, UNZA Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Dr Mick Mwala said: “This partnership will not only create graduates, but also scientists, leaders and innovators. The scholarship will take into consideration the vulnerable; there are excellent students who may not have the means. We thank Kagem to this end.”
The world’s largest emerald mine, Lufwanyama-based Kagem is 75 per cent owned by London-listed Gemfields plc in a model partnership with the Zambian government, which owns the remaining 25 per cent.
Since Gemfields took over operation of the mine in 2008 it has invested US$60 million in turning Kagem from a long history of making loss to one where it has been able to increase achievable prices on the global markets tenfold and become one of Zambia’s larger taxpaying mining Companies, contributing more than K2.436 billion (US$324.9 million) to Zambia’s direct foreign earnings in the past few years.
Kagem has generated more than US$40 million in corporate taxes payable to the government in the last three years, along with US$12 million in mineral royalties and US$4 million as the government’s share of dividends.
Gemfields and Kagem are at the forefront of developing the international market and growing demand for Zambian emeralds by investing in exploration, mining, sales and marketing in order to ensure a competitive, reliable and trusted source of responsibly produced gemstones while pioneering new environmental, social and safety standards within the coloured gemstone sector.
A key component of its progress has been the use of cutting edge geological technology and expertise, supported by sector specific mining methodologies, to develop the mine.
Kagem Mining believes that today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce and industry champions and is thus motivated to ensure that all of the values and training required by the industry is properly communicated to all students via the school curricula as companies should be able to further improve their operating efficiencies, and the risks of on-the-job training, if the education system is better positioned to meet industry demands.
Kagem has also been supporting several education projects at primary levels in Lufwanyama district where it operates, the most recent project being the building of a new secondary school next to Chapula Primary School, which will see many more students advancing to secondary levels. In the past the students were unable to do so because of the challenge of distance as the nearest secondary school for some is as far as 20 kilometres.
Through its shared value model Kagem seeks to share the benefits of Zambia’s emerald success by empowering and enabling communities with skills and infrastructure that will result in their self-sustenance.
”We are extremely proud of the successes we have been able to achieve within the Zambian mining sector over the past few years, and the fact that we have been able to turn a once bankrupt company into a true global champion. We look forward to continuing these successes way into the future and a well-educated and highly motivated workforce forms a core component of our ability to do just that,” added Dr Mulenga.