Copperbelt Minister Japhen Mwakalombe has outlined the Government’s commitment towards the growth of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), saying enhanced operations are a springboard for creating jobs and increasing government revenue.
The minister was speaking when he toured KCM operations on Wednesday, 12 September, on a familiarization visit. He was accompanied by Chingola Mayor Titus Tembo, District Commissioner, Mary Chibesa and Nchanga Member of Parliament Hon. Chali Chilombo.
“The Government values KCM and wants to see the company grow. The country’s economy is driven by the private sector and so Government would like to maintain good relations with the sector,” he said.
Hon. Mwakalombe said that the Government was aware of the challenges KCM was facing and called for dialogue between the company and its stakeholders in order to find solutions.
The Minister also said he would champion the diversification of the Copperbelt economy into agriculture, aided by mining in order to reduce dependency and pressure on existing mines.
“There is heavy dependence on the mines, which puts them under a lot pressure hence the need to diversify into agriculture in the province. Most youths just supply to the mines and can’t venture into other things,” The Minister added.
KCM Chief Operating Officer Frank Russo-Bello said KCM was committed to the development of the Copperbelt and the entire economy in spite of some cash flow challenges affecting the business.
Mr Russo-Bello said KCM had initiated measures to raise production and improve its cash flows.
“Our focus is to expand and raise production safely in order to improve cash flows and so we have put in place initiatives such as the Safe 400+ tonnes per day campaign, which is the key driver to raise copper ore production at both the Nchanga and Konkola mines,” Mr Russo-Bello said. “Other initiatives include explorations for new resources and options to develop open pit mines into underground mines.”
He said KCM appreciated the Government’s stance to assist in resolving valued added tax (VAT) refunds, a matter that is receiving attention at top leadership levels of Government and Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA). He also pledged KCM’’s resolve KCM to settle payments to its suppliers.