By JOHN CHOLA
BARRICK Lumwana Mining Company (LMC) has spent a total of US$329 million through purchases from local businesses, according to latest figures in the just-ended financial year.
The mining company has also paid US$79 million in taxes and royalties to the Zambian Government for the same financial year.
And in its quest to leave behind a long-lasting legacy on the communities in which it operates, LMC has unveiled another development vehicle; the Lumwana Community Development Committee (LCDC).
Government through Kalumbila District Commissioner, Robinson Kalota, has since commended LMC for its development initiatives that have continued to greatly complement Government’s efforts towards the attainment of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP).
LMC Sustainability Manager Christopher Mukala has disclosed that, in its quest to contribute to improved lives of Zambians, the mining company, under the year in review, recorded an addition US$1 million as community investment while employee wages and benefits gobbled a whooping US$71.3 million.
Mr Mukala has however assured that the already existing Lumwana Community Trust (LCT) that spearheads development in the three chiefdoms of Mukumbi, Mumena and Matebo, will continue operating together with the newly-unveiled LCDC.
Last year, the LCT received US$400,000 and this year got US$350,000 for community projects shared among the three chiefdoms of Mukumbi, Matebo and Mumena and will continue to operate generally while the new vehicle, the LCDC will cater for bigger projects within the 20 kilometre radius from the mine boundary.
“A question may arise as to why focusing on the 20 kilometre radius; the rationale is that most of the pressing issues the mine is getting from the communities are within that catchment area. So we want to focus on offsetting those issues within that radius with our stakeholders and then we leave the LCT to look at developmental issues within the interior of the three chiefdoms.”
Mr Mukala, who was speaking during the inauguration of the LCDC held at Lumwana Mine Golf Club on Thursday, said the LCDC will be run by stakeholders whose management committee will be set up by January 2020. Thereafter, the mine will unveil the funds to kick-start the implementation of development projects.
“We are trying to move away from small projects such as erection of a one by three classroom block and two staff houses for rural health centre. When this LCDC committee starts meetings, we will be asking about the big issues that the community has within that 20 kilometre radius, for instance we will be able to start a basic school or hospital from scratch and deliver a whole project,” Mr Mukala explained.
The LMC will now push the agenda of legacy projects in the communities.
“We know that one day the mine will go, and when we go what are you going to remember us for as Barrick? The resolve now is what we must leave when mining is over. We have begun to look for those projects that we know will leave a lasting legacy in the area. These projects should be like a full school, a full hospital, a modern police station, if that is what we are going to agree in the LCDC.”
And Mr Kalota said LMC had continued to remain committed to the dictates of the Government policies as enshrined in the 7NDP.
“LMC remains resolute to the call for multi-sectoral development approach. Therefore, organising this important meeting for stakeholders’ engagement towards the review of the formal risks assessments of the mine is appreciated.”
He added that the formation of the LCDC fits into Government’s decentralisation agenda of promoting the bottom-up approach to development.
LMC brought together key stakeholders together for a two-day meeting that would see the formation of an interim committee to steer development in the Lumwana local area