In a recent press briefing, Zambia’s Mines Minister, Paul Kabuswe, provided updates on several important issues related to the country’s mining sector.
The briefing aimed to inform the nation about the progress and plans of the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development. The minister discussed topics such as the status of Mopani Copper Mine (Mopani) and Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), the suspension of the exploration license for Kasenseli Gold Mine (KGM), the discovery of Sugilite in Luapula Province, the formalization of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), the establishment of the Minerals Regulation Commission, and the strategy to increase copper production to three million tonnes.
These updates highlight the government’s commitment to sustainable mining practices and the welfare of Zambian citizens.
Mopani Copper Mine (Mopani): Mopani is an asset owned by the people of Zambia through ZCCM-IH. Following the departure of Glencore and the transfer of the asset to ZCCM-IH, the government has been seeking a new investor.
The Mines Minister stated that after receiving non-binding offers and presentations from four bidders, binding offers were received on July 10, 2023.
The government intends to close the deal by July 31, 2023, and will announce the successful bidder after evaluating the binding offers.
Regarding KCM, Hon. Kabuswe stressed that Konkola Copper Mines’ (KCM) shareholding structure comprises 80% Vedanta Resources (VR) and 20% ZCCM-IH.
Due to litigations against the government in Zambia and British courts, the provisional liquidator took over KCM’s management after VR’s departure in 2019.
The government decided to re-engage VR as the 80% shareholder to invest in the mine and resolve outstanding issues. The negotiation is progressing, and it is expected to be concluded in July. The government is committed to protecting the interests of the Zambian people during this process.
He stated that the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development suspended the exploration license of Zambia Gold Company (ZAMGOLD) due to various violations. Negotiations between interested parties are ongoing, and it is expected to be concluded by the end of July 2023.
The Minister addressed the recently discovered gemstone Sugilite in Luapula Province in Mansa, stating that two locations have been found so far. The extent of the resource endowment is still being established.
He said the Ministry is developing a comprehensive strategy to guide the responsible and sustainable management of sugilite and other similar minerals.
The government aims to ensure effective management and full state participation in the exploitation of these critical minerals.
Hon. Kabuswe also said the Ministry is working towards formalizing the ASM sub-sector, which has seen illegal mining activities in various provinces. Various mining cooperatives have been formed and registered to encourage illegal miners formalize and contribute to the nation’s development through the payment of taxes.
He said collaboration with other ministries and institutions is underway to support the formalization process, with 52 mining cooperatives already registered.
He stressed that the Ministry is undertaking institutional reforms to enhance the regulation of the mining sector. The establishment of the Minerals Regulation Commission, an independent mining regulator, is a key reform.
He stressed that the draft legislation for the commission has been finalized and is awaiting submission to Cabinet and Parliament. The commission will play a crucial role in monitoring and regulating mining activities in the country.
He said the Ministry has developed a draft strategy to increase copper production to three million tonnes within the next nine years. Geological mapping and mineral exploration are key priorities to achieve this target.
Collaboration with private sector players and other investors will be crucial in ramping up copper production from both brownfield and greenfield projects.
He said the government is investing in acquiring geologic al information to achieve the three million tonnes production target. Geological mapping and exploration will not only focus on copper but also identify the potential resource quantum of other minerals in Zambia. The ministry has also developed a draft strategy for lithium and other critical minerals.
The Minister has since called on citizens to remain patient as the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development is actively working to promote the mining sector’s contribution to Zambia’s GDP and the well-being of its citizens.
He said the updates provided demonstrate the government’s commitment to sustainable mining practices, and these efforts aim to create more job opportunities and ensure the responsible management of Zambia’s mineral resources for the benefit of the present and future generations.