President Hakainde Hichilema says the newly a US$250 million Enterprise Nickel mine project in Kalumbila district is important as it will provide raw materials for the production of electric motor vehicle batteries.
Mr Hichilema says development will also help the country make the vision of moving into a clean and environmental friendly nation a reality.
The President made the remarks when he officiated at the ground breaking ceremony for a project which is part of the US$1.35 billion expansion investment by First Quantum Minerals (FQM).
The project which will be the biggest nickel producer in Africa is expected to create about 18,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“The vision of Zambia moving from a brown energy to green energy is slowly becoming a reality with such projects coming on board,” Mr Hichilema said.
The head of state said the project will also create jobs and household income for the local people as well as generate revenue for the country adding that the revenue generated through taxes will be channeled to other needy areas such as procurement of desks and drugs.
” This project is important for our country, as it will create jobs for our people and food in homes, this is an important consideration for us when embarking on any project,” he said.
Mr Hichilema said there is need to create long lasting relationships between the community and investors because both parties are beneficiaries.
He said government will for this reason continue working with partners and investors in reducing poverty, creating jobs and income for the local people.
“We are ready to work with any and all that love progress to reduce poverty, create jobs and household income,” Mr Hichilema said.
Speaking earlier, FQM chief executive officer Tristan Pascal said Zambia continues to be a prime destination for investment owing to the conducive environment.
Once in full operation , the mine will produce 30,000 tonnes of nickel per year.
Mr Pascal said the nickel project will also provide about 430 megawatts of wind and solar energy in a few years to come.
And mines Minister, Paul Kabuswe said the mine project will make Zambia a champion of nickel production in Africa as the country will contribute to the growing demand of nickel for production of electric motor vehicle batteries.
Mr Kabuswe said government will ensure that any investment that comes to any part of the country uplifts the lives of the local people.
Northwestern province Minister Robert Lihefu said the nickel project will create many other opportunities apart from direct jobs.
Mr Lihefu said the coming of the project is in line with the United Party for National Development (UPND) manifesto on job creation and poverty eradication.