Mines talks to continue

FILE: PRESIDENT Lungu (right) with First Quantum Minerals Limited director of operations Matt Pascal at Kansanshi Mine in Solwezi. PICTURE: SALIM HENRY/ STATE HOUSE.

PRESIDENT Lungu says his administration is committed to dialogue with the mines because their investment is critical to the economy.
“We will be talking to mine owners and see how we can help them improve their operations and also have harmonious relations with workers. It is about us, investors, communities, workers.  We are all an integral part of the same system,” the President said.
Speaking to journalists after touring the First Quantum Mine (FQM) Kansanshi copper mines and smelter plants, Mr Lungu described the experience as “awesome”.
The President, who took time to interact with some mine workers, also acknowledged the investment in the open mining system as a “huge investment with a special place in Zambia’s economy”.
Mr Lungu commended FQM for remaining opportunity committed to being an equal employer by employing women in male-dominated fields such as driving heavy duty vehicles in the open pit mines.
“What we saw goes to show that our women can claim any position in our society, they are showing it and we have confidence in our women.  Ask Her Honour (Vice-President Inonge) Wina,” President Lungu said.
He said Government will continue creating an enabling environment for every Zambian to prosper in various fields of endeavour.
Earlier, President Lungu called on FQM to expand their corporate social responsibility from non-traditional areas and help compliment Government efforts to develop the country.
Mr Lungu said FQM, the owners of Kansanshi Mine in Solwezi must come on board and help improve road infrastructure in the mining town.
The President further urged the mining company to partner with Government and light up Solwezi Airport which closes to air traffic in the night due to lack of lighting on the runway.
Mr Lungu said this during a meeting with FQM general manager Matt Pascall and other senior management officials before touring the open pit mine and copper smelter in Solwezi yesterday.
“We have to do 21kms of roads here in townships, come on board to help improve roads including the airport. Expand your corporate social responsibility to non-traditional areas.
“Let’s work together and see how we can light up Solwezi airport. There is an increase in air traffic to Solwezi, and yesterday we had to disrupt our schedule (in Ikeleng’i) to land (in Solwezi) before it was dark,” Mr Lungu.
He however commended the company for its extensive corporate social responsibility in the health and education sectors among others.
And Mr Lungu said line ministries and institutions such as the Citizen’s Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) must take up the challenge to empower youths who are being sponsored in skills training by FQM at Solwezi Trades Training Institute.
FQM has partnered with TEVETA to train some youths in Solwezi in a bid to reduce unemployment.
He said the youths can be empowered with funds for entrepreneurship to help reduce unemployment.
And Mr Pascall said the erstwhile tax regime which Government recently revised did not encourage further investments into the mines.
He said mining companies are always at risk of collapsing without more investments.
Mr Pascall said the company has made huge investments including the construction of the largest copper smelter in Africa.
He said the mining company is deeply concerned about power outages which negatively affect production and that it is in talks with Zesco to find a lasting solution for the challenge.

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