President Edgar Lungu says Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining has great potential to advance integrated and sustainable social economic development.
President Lungu however said little attention is paid to low value minerals in which artisanal and small scale miners are involved with more concentration on exploitation of high value mineral through multinational companies.
He said the sector is neglected and this is evidenced by lack of clear policies and strategies to harness its potential.
“ It is undisputable that mining has been the main stay of the economies in the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) region but it has not been fully exploited to spur economic development to the level eliminating poverty in the individual countries, “ said the President.
The President went on to stress that development strategies at both national and global levels have articulated the need to exploit the potential of Artisanal and Small Scale Mining if the sector is to contribute to sustainable social economic development.
The Head of State was speaking in Livingstone yesterday when he officially opened the International Conference on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining and Quarry management which has attracted over 500 delegates from over 70 countries.
The promotion of Artisanal and Small Scale Mining and exploitation of development minerals is one of the strategies aimed at achieving the goal of the Seventh National Development Plan, President Lungu noted.
Zambia is one of focus countries of the ACP-European Union Development minerals programme which has formed the basis of designing interventions included in the Seventh National Development Plan.
The development of small scale mining calls for formalization of the sector with emphasis on increased production, use of safe and efficient mining methods and environmental protection.
“ There is need improve policies on mineral resources, put in place appropriate institutional and regulatory framework in order to utilize them as a catalyst not only for revenue but as a catalyst for the structural transformation of African economies, “ emphasized the Republican President.
And speaking earlier, African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, Secretary General Dr Patrick Gomes said there is need for development of the minerals sector as it contributes significantly towards achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs).
And United Nations Resident Coordinator, Janet Rogan said the majority of the small scale miners especially women face many challenges and do not fully benefit from their labour hence the need for formation of cooperatives to enable them access funds from banking institutions.
The International conference which is being held in Zambia for the first time is an initiative of the ACP-EU Development Minerals
Programme, organised by the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, European Union, UNDP, Zambian government with support from World bank.
The conference is meant to foster a global dialogue about the development opportunities, best practices and challenges of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining(ASM)as well as provide opportunities for them to discuss and share their vision of the future.
President Edgar Lungu has since returned to Lusaka after touring some exhibition stands of artisanal and mineral products at Avani Victoria Falls Resort.