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Mines still Zambia’s lifeline

EVEN as Zambia intensifies its economic diversification actions, it will for a long time to come still depend on mining as its major source of economic sustenance.
It is important, therefore, that the mines continue operating and contributing to the country’s economic growth.
Mining companies that have continued operating in Zambia,
even against various adverse factors,
deserve commendation. One such company is Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) Plc.
Despite the past three years having been some of the most challenging for the mining industry in Zambia, MCM has continued to invest in the future of its operations and also in the community in which it operates and thrives.
This is welcome commitment for a mining firm determined to contribute to the country’s economic development.
We are therefore delighted to learn that MCM’s total investment in Zambia has now hit the US$4 billion mark, thereby making the company one of the largest private sector investments in the history of the country.
The recapitalisation has extended the lifespan of its mines by a further 25 to 30 years.
These projects include sinking and equipping the three new shafts; namely, the synclinorium shaft and Mindola Deep shaft in Kitwe as well as the Mufulira Deep shaft at Mufulira mine site.
The three shafts are scheduled to come online by the end of next year and will more than double Zambia’s mining output from the current 3.8 million tonnes of copper ore hoisted per annum to 9 million tonnes by 2020.
Apart from extending the lifespan of its mines by another 30 years, the new shafts will inevitably safeguard all existing jobs, provide access to more copper ore with enhanced grades and provide sustainable contributions to the government coffers through taxes and mineral royalties.
While the copper prices are now beginning to brighten up on the horizon, it is worth noting that a large part of these investments were, and are, being made at a time of economic uncertainty when other companies have been cancelling their investments.
Copper mining is the mainstay of the country’s economy, and
extending the lifespan of the mines translates into more money for the Government treasury, which directs the income to the social sector.
Apart from confirming that MCM is in Zambia for the long haul, the company’s footprints in the economy are there for all to see.
Since inception in 2000, MCM has spent US$260 million in corporate social responsibility programmes such as running hospitals, clinics and schools in the community, among others. The mining giant has revived the fortunes of Nkana Football Club and Nkana Golf Club, making them some of the best outfits in Zambia.
That Nkana players are undoubtedly the best paid in the Super Division – a demonstration to
MCM’s unbridled support to sports development in the country.
Apart from employing hundreds of workers directly, MCM also employs thousands of people in the country through suppliers and contractors.
Despite all the economic challenges the country has faced, which have culminated into operational hiccups for MCM, it is good that the firm has remained resolute and fully committed to doing business in Zambia.
The challenge to ensure that Zambia makes the most of its vast mineral resources is not only for the mine, but also for all other stakeholders who benefit directly and indirectly from the operations.
With collective efforts, Zambia can, and should, reap more for the good of all.

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