First Quantum seeks to localise jobs


Lusaka –Toronto-listed mining company, First Quantum Minerals (FQM) Limited has taken a bold step to ensure that qualified Zambians are considered for top jobs in line with their skills and abilities since mining started in the country over decades ago.

The Canadian company, with investments in its Zambian operations in excess of over US$2 billion in copper and gold, says plans are underway to re-look at the employment policies, where many investors, especially in the mining industry, import labour from abroad.

First Quantum Minerals has revealed its commitment to appoint Zambians to fill technical and management positions at its US$2-billion Sentinel Mine.

In a statement issued on the sidelines of the just-ended Fourth Zambia International Mining Conference, the company says it has decided to take this step to ensure skilled locals benefit from the nation’s mineral wealth.

Accordingly, the move is in line with the company’s policy to appoint Zambian citizens in technical and management positions, says Tracy Campbell, recruitment officer at Sentinel Mine.

Campbell noted in the statement that the company was sparing no effort in an effort to attract skilled Zambians locally and internationally, adding that FQM already has a major effort underway to woo Zambian metallurgists, geologists and other specialists.

Sentinel Mine, lying 120 kilometres west of Solwezi in the North Western Province, has cutting-edge mining engineering equipment requiring specialised know-how. The mine also requires maintenance of its two mobile in-pit crushers that militate against fuel costs while increasing output.

However, the company did not outline further details on how the programme will be undertaken apart from highlighting the desire to tap into skilled Zambian human resources.

The new Sentinel copper mine and smelter project, which First Quantum Minerals acquired in February 2010 will cost over US$2.4 billion to develop.

Sentinel is part of the Trident project, which comprises five prospecting licences totalling 2 300 square kilometres containing a number of attractive base metal prospects.

First Quantum chairperson and chief executive officer, Philip Pascall, said an independent study has confirmed his company’s plans to develop Sentinel into a facility capable of producing up to 300 000 tonnes of copper in concentrate a year.

“Our strategy is to develop this facility over a two-year timeframe at the same time as a new copper smelter in Zambia that would process all Sentinel's concentrate production, eliminating the need to export concentrate to offshore smelters,” Pascall said.

The mine life is estimated at over 15 years, which could potentially increase with planned delineation drilling and future successful exploration.

Sentinel had an estimated measured and indicated resource of 1.03 billion tonnes at 0.51 percent copper, containing 5.2 million tonnes of copper.

July 2014
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