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Geology gaps undermine Zambia’s mining potential, says minister

On the African continent, the poverty 'is amazing and embarrassing'

Zambia's mines minister Paul Kabuswe poses for a photograph at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town.
Zambia's mines minister Paul Kabuswe poses for a photograph at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town.
Image: Reuters/ SHELLEY CHRISTIANS

Zambian minister of mines and minerals Paul Kabuswe said while the African nation reformed its economic policies to draw investment into its mining sector, the country faced huge gaps in geology surveys and another other vital activities that support mining.

The minister was speaking during a panel of the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Wednesday. He called on African nations to co-operate and combine their strategic strengths to trade with the world as a united front rather than practising “resources nationalism”.

The minister said while the Zambian national budget for mining had increased almost 500%, this accounted for only 5% of the country’s exploration potential. Zambia’s copper mines produced an estimated 880,000 tonnes in 2021.

“As we work together, we need mutually beneficial partnerships. We don’t need to encourage resource nationalism. Africa must ensure that value is seen by communities.

“The world over, the realisation of value from what you are endowed with must be obtained on the ground. The world must tread carefully and cautiously with that in mind. We are focusing on a continent that is massively endowed with all of the critical minerals. But when you look at the African continent, the poverty is amazing and very embarrassing,” he said.

He said renewed energy needed to be applied towards establishing mutually beneficial extraction interventions for the African continent. Providing an update on Zambia’s ongoing debt settlement negotiations with private creditors, he said the continent needed affordable capital.

“Zambia today is grappling with huge debt. In debt restructuring, we are still discussing and it is choking our country. We are urging our partners to move quickly to address the debt restructuring,” he said.

We are not going to choke the private sector because our economy in Zambia is private- sector driven. No more changing policies like jackets. We need you to find us in one jacket for the next five years
Paul Kabuswe, Zambian minister of mines and minerals 

He added that Zambia had introduced investor-friendly policies into its market to enhance its prestige as an African investment destination. He said investors entering the Zambian mining market would benefit from the country’s infrastructure as well as its policy certainty and political stability.

“We are not going to choke the private sector because our economy in Zambia is private-sector driven. No more changing policies like jackets. We need you to find us in one jacket for the next five years,” he said. “I must not be afraid to say that some investors misbehave by bringing fake figures of production so that they get undertaxed.

“I’m not saying that they are here [in this room] but we do have them,” he quipped.

Diplomat and former US special envoy for the Sahel region J Peter Pham urged African leaders to make the most of its commitment to the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement to negotiate the trade of critical minerals with the world in one voice.

TimesLIVE


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