MINES, Energy and Water Development Minister Christopher Yaluma has said the Government is working on legislation to enhance value-addition to Zambia’s mineral resources to create employment opportunities for Zambians.
Mr Yaluma said the Government was revising the Mines and Minerals Act of 2008 and was aiming at promoting value-addition to enhance benefits from copper and other minerals.
The minister said this at the International Infrastructure and Invest Convention in Johannesburg yesterday.
This is contained in a Press statement issued by press secretary at the Zambian Embassy in Pretoria, Nicky Shabolyo.
Mr Yaluma said the revision of the Act was expected to also, among other things, make it easier for Zambians to participate in all activities across the mining value chain.
He said the law, which was also aimed at enhancing a conducive investment climate for mine investors, was meant to encourage value-addition activities in the sector and, in the process, trigger employment opportunities for Zambians.
“Zambians have toiled for long without benefiting from the mines when this has been the country’s major economic activity from as far back as the 1930s,” Mr Yaluma said.
Mr Yaluma said there had been continuous consultation with all stakeholders, including the mining houses operating in Zambia, with regard to the new legislation.
He said the proposed new legislation was now with the Ministry of Justice and would soon be presented to Parliament so that it could be enacted into law before the end of the year.
Mr Yaluma said the Government’s vision was to have a vibrant, well-organised public-private partnership-driven mining sector that would contribute in excess of 20 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product.
Some of the other challenges identified which the revision of the Act would address were the unnecessary bureaucracy in the issuance of mining rights, inadequate size and duration of prospecting licences, lack of clearly-stipulated appeal procedures, and the lack of provisions to retain a tenement in situations where progression to mine development became impossible due to adverse economic conditions or technological constraints.
The minister, who was later hosted on CNBC Africa’s ‘Beyond Markets’ programme, maintained that the Government wanted to see Zambians participate in activities across all mining stages.
He said it was estimated that only one per cent of copper produced in Zambia was utilised in the manufacturing sector while the rest was exported unprocessed.
Mr Yaluma said one of the Government’s key objectives, which had also been the cry of Zambians for a long time, was to ensure that citizens derived tangible benefits from investments that were being made into the country.
Meanwhile, Mr Yaluma has said that Zambia’s next biggest economic mainstay after copper is oil and gas.
Mr Yaluma told CNBC Africa’s Godfrey Mutizwa that nine licences were recently granted to successful bidders for gas and oil exploration in Zambia.
He said the Government was now seriously encouraging exploration for oil and gas and that the country had since been demarcated into blocks following recent preliminary results.
Mr Yaluma said Zambia was trying as much as possible to diversify from copper reliance and that the geological mapping exercise currently underway would help the Government understand what other natural resources were available in the country.
The minister said about 40 per cent of the country was not mapped, implying that there were areas with unknown potential.
On creation of infrastructure to enhance development in the country, Mr Yaluma said Zambia was inviting independent power producers to get on board and participate in the sector.