Copper rich Zambia has called on the world’s resource investment powerhouses to drive an expansion of the country’s mineral riches into a far more diversified mineral extraction and processing sector rather than its historic renown as Africa’s largest red metal producer. In an impassioned speech in Perth on the second day of the 2012 Paydirt Africa Downunder conference, Zambia’s Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister, the Hon Yamfwa Mukanga, said mining remained the country’s number one economic driver, accounting for up to 80% of its foreign exchange earnings, underpinned by substantial copper and cobalt output.”We have 16 producing copper mines, three new ones coming on stream in two years, backed up by existing and new smelting and refinery capacity,” Mr Mukanga said, “and known reserves for at least 50 years of future production.
“However, we have reshaped our mining investment strategy as we need to intensify exploration for the development of new mines and mineral based exports to deliver a new level of long term benefits from our resources,” he said.
“This more intense focus includes required new investment in our oil and gas potential, boosting manufacturing capacity to process a wider spectrum of minerals, and to parallel that growth with new manufacturing capacity for mining industry consumables.”
The Minister said direct foreign investment was one of the best ways to achieve the new strategy objectives. These investment opportunities included:
- New manufacturing for engineering products for copper, iron, steel and cobalt operations
- Beneficiation of phosphates and related fertilisers in a new agrochemical sector
- Beneficiation of rock material into cement
- Biofuels, and thermal power plants.
“There is a major gap in Zambia’s economy in downstream processing our gemstones industrial minerals and dimensional stone and there are few if any local manufacturers of mining equipment such as drill rods, bits, jack hammers and piping,” Mukanga said.
“On that basis, we need both junior and large mining companies and resources investment houses, to install Zambia on their high priority investment agendas.”
He appealed to all would be investors to invest in Zambia as it was a fertile environment for investment, since it was politically stable and a rich untapped mineral resource, with the biggest asset being the people themselves.