GOVERNMENT recognises the various infrastructure development initiatives being driven by mining companies meant to empower local communities as the social investments play an important role in the country’s social and economic development agenda.
Speaking at the official hand-over ceremony of a science laboratory which was built at a cost of K781, 929.02 by Barrick Lumwana Mining company to Meheba Secondary School in Solwezi at the weekend, acting district commissioner, Chipawa Chipawa said the spirit of infrastructure development being exhibited by mining companies was encouraging.
He said such initiatives represented a tangible reflection of the country’s infrastructure development agenda.
Mr Chipawa said Government was keen on creating a proactive foundation of building long-term relationships with both the private sector and the local communities as witnessed by the number of foreign investors expressing interest to set up businesses in Zambia.
He said that Zambia faced a continued challenge of addressing critical skills shortage in the mining sector and there was need to ensure a future pipeline of highly qualified, experienced and skilled young people.
He said Government was committed to finding practical solutions to such challenges by creating and supporting specialist training, development, apprenticeship and nursery programmes.
“This can be achieved by combined efforts of all stakeholders such as the mining companies and other local and foreign investors investing heavily in the education sectors like what Lumwana has demonstrated,” Mr Chipawa said.
He said his office would offer support to companies which endeavoured to plough back to communities in which they operated in promoting various programmes aimed at uplifting the living standards of the people in areas such as education, health, agriculture, water and sanitation.
Mr Chipawa said the approach would ensure the community’s young people had access to future opportunities to develop their skills and become key contributors to the future success of the mining industry in North Western Province and in Zambia as a whole.
Barrick Gold Corporation director of operations, Brian Grebenc said the official handover of the science laboratory was a celebration of a visible milestone in the journey of educational quality improvement in the Lumwana area.
“This is a joyous occasion, especially for the project committee and contractor who have been personally involved in conceptualizing and shaping the project, and organizing and directing the construction of this school science laboratory project,” Mr Grebenc said.
Speaking through Lumwana Mine’s community relations superintendent, Harrington Kanema, Mr Grebenc said he was convinced that the people in the area shared Lumwana Mining Company’s vision and desire to improve educational services in the Lumwana area and in the new district of Kalumbila.
He acknowledged the enormous contributions made by the various stakeholders who stepped in to make the project a reality