TEDDY KUYELA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has started engaging mining companies to consider different options so that the two parties could come up with consistent and predictable policies for the mining sector.
And mining houses in Zambia have hailed Government for its continued commitment to finding lasting solutions facing the sector.
Gemfields Plc, 75 percent owners of Kagem Mine, and Vedanta Resources Plc, have appreciated the openness which Government has been exhibiting in approaching the various efforts that have been tabled so far to help the parties arrive at a mutually beneficial set of policies.
Gemfields also own Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).
This is according to a statement issued by secretary for press at the Zambian High Commission in South Africa, Nicky Shabolyo.
Vedanta Resources Plc chief executive officer Tom Albanese said during a â€˜country case Studyâ€™ on Zambia at the on-going mining conference in Capetown, that his company is proud of what the negotiating team has achieved with the Government in getting round the challenges facing the sector.
Meanwhile, Gemfields Plc chief executive officer Ian Harebottle said his company has all the confidence in the Zambian Government which has continued making the country â€œan excellent investment destination.â€
The two were part of a panel discussion which also comprised Zambiaâ€™s minister of Mines and Minerals Development, Christopher Yaluma, deputy Minister of Finance Christopher Mvunga and ZCCM-Investment Holdings chief executive officer Pius Kasolo.
And Mr Albanese disclosed that KCM has made tremendous progress in repositioning itself in the last two years and could comfortably say that it is now able to withstand the current low copper prices.
â€œWe are hopeful that there will be positive trends soon and the copper business will start coming round this year, although this will not be in the range of US$6, 000 to US$8, 000 per tonne,â€ Mr Albanese.
He said Vedanta Resources understands the current problems, such as the energy shortage, that the Government is grappling with and would like to be part of the solutions.
And Mr Mvunga said Government is alive to the fact that mining is a long-term investment for which owners needs to be able to plan ahead without difficulties.
â€œWe are in constant dialogue with the mines to arrive at a consistent and predictable tax regime. We realise that there is need for a certain form of certainty as these are long term investments,â€ he said.
Mr. Mvunga said Government, just like many other players in the sector, realised that mining had moments of â€œtroughs and crestsâ€ and that it is glad that there is still a show of optimism from the mining houses themselves.
He reminded mining companies to look at the â€˜remission ruleâ€™ governing the operations of mines in Zambia so that they could put it to use in troubled times as the current scenario.
And Dr Kasolo said trends in the mining business are of cyclical nature and beyond the control of any government.
And in responding to a question from the audience, Mr Yaluma assured the mining sector that Government is not considering reintroduction the windfall tax until such a time when conditions will dictate.
Mr Yaluma also said Zambia has been through a period of depressed metal prices and that Government is confident that the country will emerge out of the current one victoriously.
TEDDY KUYELA, Lusaka