The Patriotic Front government manifesto has won kudos from First Quantum Minerals Limited (FQML) country general manager General Kingsley Chinkuli.
Gen. Chinkuli said during a meeting in Solwezi recently that the mining firm has studied the manifesto of the PF and seen that it is social in nature and approach.
Gen Chinnkuli has since pledged the mining firm’s support to the ruling party to enable it full-fill its aspirations.
He said that FQML management is ready to sit down with government leaders to map out strategies to identify programmes that can be undertaken by the mining company.
He said North Western province has been in deficit in terms of development and that FQML as a corporate citizen operating in the area would love to work closely with government to bring development to the province.
“As a corporate citizen, we are very prepared to work with government. Our position is that we are non-political and, despite that we have been getting all sorts of accusations, we support and partner with the government in power,” he said.
Gen Chinkuli also apologised about what had happened in the past that found FQML in situations where certain things were not done properly concerning government procedure in implementing its projects, which he blamed on the absence of government leadership in the province to guide the mining firm.
“In the past we were left to operate alone without any guidance from government administration in the province which resulted in certain things about our projects not happening right,” he said.
The country manager said it is only now that government under the Patriotic Front is getting involved and it is likely that a lot of mistakes committed in the past will be corrected.
He told north western province minister Nathaniel Mubukwanu that FQM is keen to start utilising government structures like the provincial development coordinating committee (PDCC) and its similar structure at district level to implement community social responsibility programmes.
Earlier the provincial minister told Gen. Chinkuli who was accompanied by company assistant general manager Allan Delaney and Kalumbila Trident Project logistics coordinator Chris Willot that he convened the Monday meeting to open up rapport with the mining firm.
He said government was grateful with the investment that FQML has brought into the country and will continue to support the firm’s ambitious programmes to expand its investment in the province in order to yield desirable results that benefit local people.
Mr Mubukwanu said FQML is a major tax contributor to government, but emphasised that the company needed to do more with its community Social responsibility which must go beyond legal and contractual obligations of paying tax.
“You have done very well in paying tax to the government, but there is need for the company to do more in improving the livelihood of the people in north western who are hosting the company,” Mr Mubukwanu said.
He said: “as you know extractive is one undertaking that handles resources that will not be there forever, it is high time that mining operations in north western province started putting in place plans and mechanisms that will mitigate environmental degradation and pollution”.
The minister said government has a larger picture and understanding of the situation and would love to see the mining firms, FQML and Barrick Lumwana, work for the common good in the province instead of them working with isolated communities.
He said in view of this government and more so north western provincial administration is keen to see the two mining operations in Sowlezi start working hand in hand with it in identifying community social responsibility projects.
“You can work with that chief or another, but for you to do it better you will need to work hand in hand with government of the day to plan for priority projects in which the mining firms can direct their community social responsibility,”
He explained that government was not implying that it will run the projects but instead will engage investors to identify priority areas and the resultant beneficiaries.