By STEVEN ZANDE –
COPPERBELT Minister Japhen Mwakalombe has said President Edgar Lungu’s decision to award small-scale miners a 10 per cent stake in the Black Mountain is a form of citizen empowerment that will create jobs and wealth for the people.
The minister has further pledged to use strong infrastructure existing on the Copperbelt to promote tourism and agricultural activity in the area with a view to diversifying economic dependence from copper mining to tourism and farming.
Mr Mwakalombe said the small-scale miners’ 10 per cent stake in the black mountain would result in trickle down effects on economic areas like transport, food and service industries and this would positively impact communities in the area.
“Zambia does not belong to the elite or the learned alone. This country belongs to everyone and every skill should be utilised to grow the economy and to improve living conditions among the people,” the minister said.
He was responding to a question from a journalist at the Patriotic Front (PF)’s interactive forum platform in Lusaka yesterday.
Mr Mwakalombe said people who opposed the measure did not mean well because allowing small-scale miners to participate in mining would create jobs and help sustain lives in surrounding communities.
The move was in line with Government’s agenda of creating jobs for the people with a view to reduce suffering among Zambians.
Mr Mwakalombe said there was a need to also enhance Zambians’ participation in precious stone mining and this would also help diversify mining activities to include high value metals like cobalt.
Government would continue engaging mining firms to negotiate for stronger corporate social responsibility (CSR) and to ensure Zambians benefited meaningfully from supplying various items and services to the mines.
Mr Mwakalombe pledged to use strong infrastructure on the Copperbelt to promote tourism and agriculture in the mining hub to shift the area’s economy from reliance on mining to tourism and farming.