Thanks for your time today PS. Could you tell us about your vision for the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development?
PS PAUL CHANDA : I want to see the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development (‘MMMD’) become the final authority on mining in Zambia. I want the MMMD to be a very transparent entity which inspires confidence in our clients. And I want to see us compete with some of the world’s largest copper producers – like Chile!
In the next 10 years I would like to see an MMMD with the capacity to effectively monitor and regulate the mining sector. A Ministry that will have operationalised an online system for all its services (such as online applications for mining rights and non-mining rights) including online payments.
We are here at the offices of the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development in Lusaka. What is this Ministry responsible for?
PS PAUL CHANDA : The Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development is tasked with managing the mineral resources of the country. It promotes and regulates the mining sector, in line with government policy, which is the major driver of Zambia’s economy. For example, the MMMD issues licenses such as mining and export permits. It is also responsible for ensuring the mining sector is complying with all regulations set out in Zambian law, and informing the strategic agenda for mining’s role in Zambia.
For our readers out there who are not familiar with the Ministry, what is the role of a Permanent Secretary?
PS PAUL CHANDA : Constant communication! My office is responsible for directing and coordinating the activities of the Ministry. It performs the policy-setting role, while the functional Heads of Department are responsible for executing the technical aspects of the Ministry’s functions but a PS is also a bridge between the MMMD and the outside world. I am in charge of projects, personnel and generally I help to polish up the image of the Ministry as I am the contact point with other stakeholders. So I work closely with the Ministry’s department heads (such as Mines Development, Mining Safety and Human Resources), share information and communicate.
How did you become Permanent Secretary?
PS PAUL CHANDA : I’ve worked in government for 22 years – in various departments including Health, Finance, and even the Cabinet Office. In 2012, two separate Ministries (Mines and Energy) were combined. I joined the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development at that time, as the head of Human Resources. I was reporting to the Ministry of Mines’ Permanent Secretary and when he was relieved, I was then appointed as Acting Permanent Secretary, a position I held for two years before I was appointed as a ‘permanent’ Permanent Secretary by President Lungu.
Zambia is well known for copper mining, but it also has large gemstone deposits – beautiful emeralds and amethysts for example. Could you tell us a bit more about what the MMMD is doing to encourage gemstone mining? And what would more gemstone production mean for Zambia?
PS PAUL CHANDA : Yes – Zambia has a wide variety of gemstones such as emeralds, amethyst, aquamarines, garnets, quartz and many more – all of which have not been explored and exploited to their full potential. So as part of our diversification strategy, here at the MMMD we have prioritised the exploration and exploitation of other base metals (other than the traditional copper) and also, as you say, gemstones.
I’m very glad to mention that under the European Union-funded Mineral Production Monitoring Support Project (MPMSP), there is a specific component which focuses on enhancing gemstone production and monitoring. As part of this component, a Senior Expert was engaged, and produced a report with recommendations for improvements to gemstone production reporting, including reference to gemstone grading schemes and an improved reporting template.
With the elections now behind us here in Zambia, 2017 is going to be about getting down to work. What are your priorities for this year?
PS PAUL CHANDA : My priorities for this year are to grow the mining industry, and to increase copper production for 2017 to 850,000 metric tons.
This will be achieved by bringing on-stream new projects such as the South East Ore Body development at NFCA Mining Plc.; Kitumba Project in Mumbwa which is being developed by Intrepid Resources; and Mwambashi Project being developed by Sino Metals Leach Zambia Limited. Other projects to be commissioned include Dunrobin in Mumbwa, by Luiri.
Personally, I also want to see improved monitoring of the mining sector, better compliance, a stable mining policy and fiscal regime, and improved budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Mines. And this coming year we also hope to see the gemstone sector growing. We want to attract new investment into gemstone mining.
Late last year, the European Union-funded Mineral Production Monitoring Support Project (also known as the MPMSP) hosted an unveiling event at the Geological Survey Department for new laboratory equipment which was donated as part of the Project. Could you tell us more about that event and why it was important?
PS PAUL CHANDA : The unveiling of the new laboratory equipment is one of my proudest moments. I know all too well that in the past it has been difficult to test mineral samples accurately, as most of our equipment was obsolete, and people [in the laboratory] were not fully utilised as there was little to work with.
The unveiling of the laboratory equipment gave the Geological Survey Department a good image, and indeed the Ministry as a whole. It also gives confidence to clients who know that they will get accurate measurements of their samples. And it boosts the morale of our staff too.
The equipment kindly donated by the European Union will also help in the monitoring of exports. The President, H.E. Edgar Lungu, has said that government is committed to engaging with the private sector to identify solutions which can help the country offset some of the problems affecting the mining sector.
How will this new equipment help the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development?
PS PAUL CHANDA : The new laboratory equipment will ensure that we are able to speedily and accurately analyse mineral bearing materials intended for export, so that the correct metal content is established. This in turn ensures that the correct revenues can be collected by government through the payment of mineral royalties. It will also help identify the different minerals in a sample, and ensure that the samples that were tested are the same ones which are ultimately exported.
BY Hope M Mkunte