Zambian mines set to reap recapitalisation dividends
Lusaka – Zambia’s mining industry is projected to earn over US$1.3 billion next year, says Minister of Labour and Social Security, Fackson Shamenda.
The Minister was quoted in the media as saying the mining industry’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) is anticipated to grow to US$1.35b in 2015, He was speaking during the Mineworkers’ Union of Zambia (MUZ) 13th quadrennial conference.
Minister Shamenda told the delegates in Livingstone that the government will ensure it creates a conducive environment for mining activities to thrive.
“Government is committed to diversifying the economy away from mining to sectors like agriculture and tourism.
We still recognise the important role of mining to our economy,” he said.
Earlier, MUZ president, Chishimba Nkole, said the country is now seeing the dawn of a mining industry that has absorbed over US$2b in recapitalisation and refurbishment of old mine infrastructure and opening of new mining projects.
Nkole said the new mining projects at Kansanshi, Kalumbila and Syncrinolium at Mopani copper mine continue to contribute to the extension of the lifespan and production capacities of the existing mining operations.
“The new set-up of mining activities, however, poses new challenges to the union’s drives and strategies for membership recruitment, union organisation and growth in light of trade union rivalry and competition in the mining industry,” he said.
He said it is crucial that the conference focuses on challenges facing MUZ and come up with an effective plan for the union’s growth and strategies for better salaries, improved conditions of service, health and job security for members.
Nkole added that there is need for government to come up with a clear poverty datum line which should be official and reliable.
The unionist also called on government and mining companies to create a framework or policy to strengthen corporate social responsibility (CSR) to help monitor spending and measure results.
“This way, our country will truly benefit from its mineral wealth. We would like to see a CSR programme that involves all stakeholders and not just mining management deciding on their own what to do for the host communities,” he said.
Nkole said when Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines was unbundled and privatised, Copperbelt towns saw the advent of high revenue collections by the city and municipal councils in property and land rates not only from actual mine premises but from many residential areas.
He said it is important that the public takes a keen interest in understanding the levels of revenue collections that the councils achieve from the mines as those are public funds that should contribute meaningfully to enhance corporate social responsibility.
According to the Zambian Chamber of Mines, in 2013 the mining sector paid about US$99 million in various communities through investments in social amenities, including roads and hospitals.