SMALL and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on the Copperbelt should take advantage of various Government economic interventions to run mining ventures, Mines and Mineral Development Minister Christopher Yaluma has said.
The Ministry of Mines will start guaranteeing mining projects to increase participations of Zambians in the running of mines which is dominated by foreign players.
Minister of Finance Felix Mutati announced in the 2017 budget speech that Government had sourced $50 million from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to fund SME projects.
Mr Yaluma said SMEs should take advantage of mining credit guarantees as well as the $50 million SME fund to venture into mining.
“The Government would like to see Zambians running mines even at the small scale. We have a pool of mining engineers who should come together and run mining operations and this is the reason Government wants to start guaranteeing viable projects,” Mr Yaluma said in an interview in Chingola.
He said banks have not responded to the needs of small scale miners hence the intervention by Government.
He challenged local people to get mining licences and where they fail seek joint ventures with their foreign counterparts.
“The past administration had showed a blind eye in terms of giving mining licences to locals but what we are saying as Government is bygones are bygones let’s forge ahead,”Mr Yaluma said.
He said Zambians should move away from just thinking about getting employment but start creating employment by taking advantage of the massive opportunities in the mining sector.
Mr Yaluma said Government would continue facilitating business linkages between mining houses and local suppliers as well as contractors.
“We are committed to ensuring that locals reap more benefits from the mines by strengthening business linkages between the mines and local enterprises as evidenced by the review of the 1995 Mines and Mineral Development Act.
“This culminated into the coming in of the 2013 Act which insists on local preference in terms of procurement of goods and services by the mines,” he said.