By Tadiwa Mugumbate – Cape Town
LACK of interaction between stakeholder has caused perception issues between the communities, government and the mines, Mines Minister Honorable Christopher Yaluma said on 06 February at the ongoing Mining indaba in Cape Town. During a high level debate dubbed ‘how the trust deficit between government, industry and communities can be closed,’ the Minister echoed that Zambia has been mining for over 100 years and nothing can be written home about in terms of wealth share with investors. The government is getting its share through taxes while the investors are earning proceeds but it is hard to narrow down on what the community and people enjoyed all this time from these investments, he said. According to Zambian communities, not much benefit has trickled to them which the Minister conquered with.
Lack of information transparency
Honorable Yaluma highlighted lack of information sharing and descending information to the communities by investors in addition to government not being available to let people know what is going on exactly has been the biggest hurdle. The Minister admitted to having failed as government to identify which policies are in place for the mines covering what it gets into with the mines to trickle down to the communities and as such government is seeking an integrated solution to cut across all stakeholders.
The mines have been known for making windfall earnings and channeling profits overseas at the expense of uplifting the standards of the locals. The Minister made reference to Kabwe a town in central Zambia where investors exhausted Zinc and Lead deposits and today the mining town is grappling with lead contamination because the mining investors did not bother to take the requisite clean ups the Minister mentioned.
Social responsibility without community input
He lauded the mining investment initiatives of building schools and sinking bore holes but bemoaned the lack of input involvement into these projects which the minister challenged the mining house to do. He said the right policies are required to govern this anomaly lest communities think government is conniving with investors at their expense. The need for all stakeholders – mines, government and communities cannot be overemphasized. Zambia will in the next decade or so grow mining production to over 2million metric tons but mistrust could hamper this achievement which needs to be addressed.
The Minister also bemoaned the poverty levels that Zambian mining communities were languishing in despite having been in the mining business for decades.
No power constraints enough investment in power generation
The minister marketed Zambia by assuring investors that the country was not facing any energy challenges because the government has done its homework. Zambia and Zimbabwe are set to build a 6,000MW hydro Batoka power plant, are adding 750MW to the grid through the Kafue lower by 2021 and have the Mulungushi and Kalungwishi projects in addition to the 300MW commissioned coal fired with another 300MW coming soon as phase two of the Maamba project. Power will soon become cheap with the introduction of the cost reflective tariffs.
“I was touched negatively by a comment by an elderly states man Hon. Olusegun Obasanjo on stability in Zambia. With all due respect I would like to refute claims about instability in Zambia. You can invest a dime in Zambia, go to sleep and not wake up to a coup. I wish to reiterate that Zambia is a favorable mining destination with investment opportunities not only in mining. I can attest that you will sleep comfortably and your investments will multiply. Come to Zambia and help us shape our economy and we will in turn protect your investment.”
Mines Minister Christopher Yaluma
Favorable mining policies and frameworks
The current mining policy for 2013 seeks to orient the mining sector for sustainability to benefit investors and the people through increased private investment and participation by locals which to date is still low. It also seeks to increase employment in the mining and manufacturing sector. The Minister boasted of an improved legal framework provided by the Mines Development Act which has increased the exploration latitude to 200, 000 hectares for 10yr licenses from 7yr 100,000 hectare licenses.
More articles on day 2 of mining indaba.