Open dialogue and transparency between government and the private sector is needed to improve and safeguard Zambia’s investment climate, says First Quantum Minerals.
The mining firm believes that a natural equilibrium must also be sought that sees Zambian people share the benefits of the country’s natural resources while also making investments a true business proposition for the private sector.
Speaking at this week’s Expo North West Zambia 2019, FQM Country Manager General Kingsley Chinkuli said that to stimulate an influx of new investors in various sectors in North-Western Province there was need for a better understanding of investors and investment requirements.
The Expo, of which FQM is the major sponsor, is being held under the theme ‘Unveiling the Hidden Treasures’.
“The province’s copper and gold resources have been unveiled by our company and others, creating a new and modern ‘Copperbelt’. To unveil that which is still hidden in the ground requires a positive policy on exploration. This province needs the next mine to come online in the near future, and it needs extension of the lives of existing mines,” said General Chinkuli.
However, he explained that despite the challenges of mining low-grade copper deposits of just 0.51 percent, First Quantum’s success was founded on three pillars that have enabled the investment to be unlocked: the nation’s natural resources; significant amounts of capital raised from international markets; and cutting edge skills and expertise drawn from across the globe to ensure the ore is mined profitably.
“The ‘glue’ that binds those three ingredients together is a strong partnership between government and the private sector in the form of genuine constant dialogue to deal with challenges and achieve our common goal of ensuring Zambia is a competitive environment in which to do business,” he added.
First Quantum Minerals remains committed to that transparent partnership, along with the sustainability, environmental responsibility and governance that form the bedrock of its approach to business, he said, adding that investment in people would attract further business to the area, confident there is an educated, skilled and eager workforce available, and that in turn will ensure the market will continue to grow, creating new employment for people who themselves become a market for yet more businesses.
“We firmly believe that the solutions lie in North-Western Province’s other ‘hidden treasures’. First Quantum believes that forestry is a great treasure worth protecting for an economic and orderly exploitation for the benefit of this land. This province has empty game reserves. These should be stocked with game for investment in tourism. We are taking a lead in this area.
“Our direct involvement in agriculture at community level through our Trident Foundation keeps growing every year, clearly demonstrating this region’s hidden treasure in its soils and weather. The production coming off our community farms through conservation farming should encourage any investor to take up investment in this area,” said General Chinkuli.
Speaking when he opened the expo, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu said that the Expo demonstrated government’s long-standing commitment to improve the use of resources, to promote diversification, industrialisation, job creation and poverty reduction.
“My government is committed to accelerating economic development by supporting such events, which are aimed at attracting both local and foreign investors. This is for us to exploit and unlock the investment potential that North-Western Province has in various sectors,” he said.
President Lungu added that government believed the private sector was a catalyst to supporting its quest to improve the livelihoods of its people through wealth and employment creation in line with the country’s Vision 2030.