President Rupiah Banda of Zambia, Africa’s biggest copper producer, said on Friday foreign mining firms should set up copper processing facilities to process finished products for export. Banda was speaking in Solwezi, 700 km northwest of the capital Lusaka, where he commissioned the Lumwana copper mine, a unit of Australia’s Equinox Minerals Ltd (EQN.TO: Quote) (EQN.AX: Quote).
As we reported earlier (All that glitters is not gold) copper production is expected to peak at 170,000 tonnes at the mine this year.
“What the government expects is for foreign investors in the mining sector to consider investing in metal processing facilities that add value to your metal,” the state-run Zanis news agency quoted Banda as saying. “Time is ripe for investors to consider processing the copper and add more value by selling finished products made in Zambia to the international market.”
Banda said his government would provide the necessary support to investors seeking to process copper in a bid to raise more revenue and create jobs.
Zambia has previously provided tax relief on imported equipment and machinery and also waived a 16 percent value added tax to investors in the mining sector to woo more foreign investments.
Banda hailed Equinox Minerals for continuing to develop the Lumwana copper mine even when the global financial crisis was affecting the operations of the industry following a slump in world metals prices.
Banda said Equinox Minerals had spent $1 billion developing the Lumwana mine in 12 years, including a new town in the area.
“This shows the trust (Equinox Minerals) has in our mining industry regardless of the ups and downs,” Banda said.
Copper mining is Zambia’s economic lifeblood and the mines are a major employer in this country of 12 million people.
Courtesy of Reuters