By CHUSA SICHONE –
MINES and Minerals Development Minister Christopher Yaluma has assured that the Government is making frantic efforts to guard against capital flight and ensure that value is added to copper before it is exported.
The Government, in collaboration with the Mine Suppliers and Contractors Association of Zambia (MSCAZ), is keen to stop the mines from sub-contracting foreign companies to render goods and services when that could be done by the locals.
Featuring on the ZNBC Television’s Sunday Interview on Sunday evening, Mr Yaluma said the Government was losing huge sums of money through mining firms exporting copper blisters, which fell short by two per cent for them to be 100 per cent copper.
“That blister copper, it contains other minerals in there and when it’s taken out, exported like that, it means where it goes, one, Zambia is deprived of employment. If that two per cent of processing was done here, people were going to benefit, the Government was going to benefit more in terms of taxes,” the minister said.
Mr Yaluma said the Government was going to be getting more proceeds from the other minerals found while processing copper blisters.
He said the practical plan the Government was putting in place was to direct mines with smelters to in the next two years invest in processing plants that could add value to the copper blisters.
Mr Yaluma said once that was done, the Government wanted to woo foreign companies where the mining firms were exporting the unfinished copper to establish processing plants in Zambia so that they could add value to copper blisters locally before exporting.
He also said that the Government was urging the private sector to partner with it to resuscitate a copper refinery plant.
Mr Yaluma said the Government wanted Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to reopen its copper refinery plant in Kitwe for the company to be processing copper fully.
Mr Yaluma further said that the Government was working closely with MSCAZ to ensure that they came up with a percentage on what the mines should be imported by the mining companies and the local suppliers.
The Government, he said, was concluding the revision of the Supplier Development Policy to ensure that Zambians were empowered ‘heavily’ and in the process discourage mining companies from imports.
He said the Government was going to institute investigations against mining companies which were outsourcing labour from other countries, thereby compromising the job security in the mining industry.
Mr Yaluma warned that the Government was not going to allow mining firms to sub-contract their works to foreign companies without any justifiable reasons as that aggravated unemployment levels in the country.
Meanwhile, Mr Yaluma disclosed that the Government had obtained a US$65.6 million loan from the World Bank to deal with environmental degradation effects in Kabwe and Mufulira, while it had also established an Environmental Protection Fund to compel mining companies to contribute resources towards environmental protection.