Mines and Minerals Development Minister Paul Kabuswe has said that the UPND administration will prove its critics wrong on its plans to run the mining industry in the country, saying “loleleni, mukatotela” by 2025.
Speaking when he featured on Radio programme dubbed “Let the People Talk” on Tuesday, Kabuswe said that some armchair critics have been saying that the UPND government has no clear policy on that would ensure that the country benefits from its mineral wealth.
He said that, to the contrary, the UPND administration has formulated the mining policy and established the Minerals Commission while a law is in the pipeline, saying all these measures are aimed at ensuring to restore sanity in the mining sector and have a structured mining industry.
“The mining sector had stagnated for a long time. Zambia’s mining industry was not regulated. But the UPND government has formulated the mining policy that is aimed at bringing sanity in the mining sector, including small scale and artisanal mining. Apart from that, we have established the Minerals Commission to ensure that all mining activities are regulated,” Kabuswe explained. “Ba M’membe na ba KBF balelanda ati tatwakwata plan. Loleleni. By 2025 mukatotela (Just wait. You will be thankful by 2025). President Hakainde Hichilema and his leadership has a spine. Some leaders have no spine, they just talk. We have a plan. We want a structured mining sector.”
Kabuswe said that the UPND government wants to sanitise the mining sector and ensure that Zambians participate in mining activities “in a regulated manner.”
“A law is at consultation stage that will compel mining companies to give a certain threshold to Zambians. We want to encourage Zambians to form consortiums, establish artisanal mining industries. So far we have 400 plus applications for mining licences from both local and foreign investors. We are not going to allow foreign investors to dance on our heads,” Kabuswe said. “Whoever goes in the mining, be it copper, gold or manganese, must behave. Previously unscrupulous buyers were buying gold at a cheap price because there was no proper regulation in this sector. There were no monitoring mechanisms in place and most mining activities were being done illegally. Only a few individuals were benefiting from manganese mining, for example. We are not going to allow that. So far criminality in the mining has been curtailed. And the shovel and pick kind of mining has to come to an end.”
The Chililabombwe legislator also acknowledged that economic activities have dwindled in districts that depend on copper mining.
“My umbilical code is in Chililabombwe and I can tell you that looking back to the days of ZCCM when mining activities were ticking, things have drastically changed. Currently the situation is sad there. It’s the same in Chingola, Kitwe and Luanshya. Even me it breaks my heart. But we are equal to the task,” said Kabuswe.
He also said that the UPND administration has created a conducive environment for investment in the mining, which he said has led to foreign mining firms expressing interest to come to Zambia.
Kabuswe said that the tax holidays that the UPND government has extended to mining companies are meant to encourage investment in the sector, saying this will go a long way in ensuring that the country reaches 3 metric tonnes of copper production in the next 10 years.
He said this is attainable because of Zambia’s political stability and a predictable economy.
“Zambia has had seven Presidents with smooth and peace transition of power. We have enjoyed political stability. Additionally, the UPND government has brought about predictability in the economy. Previously there was no predictability in the economy, which made it difficult for foreign investors to invest in the mining sector,” said Kabuswe.
He also said that government, through ZCCM-IH, has made significant progress on the out of court settlement with Vedanta Mineral Resources, but could not give details, saying the nation will be updated once negotiations are concluded.