Editor's Comment

Munali Nickel Mine model is spot on

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu yesterday flagged off the operation of the Munali Nickel Mine, which has created 750 jobs in Mazabuka district.
It is indeed heartening that the mine, which was in comatose for over seven years, has finally bounced back to life. This will no doubt inject economic life into the local communities and the country as a whole.
For a country that is in a hurry to turn economic wheels and create a middle-income populace by 2030, the development draws us a step closer to this vision.
As rightly noted by President Lungu, the re-opening of the mine is also evidence of the country’s good investment climate.
It is indisputable that Zambia is still a highly desired investment destination, hence the continued flow of investors.
Munali Nickel Mine, which is located in a relatively new district of Chikankata, has been on care and maintenance since November 2011.
Consolidated Nickel Mines (CNM), a UK-based firm, acquired the rights to operate the mine from the owners Jinchuan Group of China in 2014 and has invested more than US$55 million to revive the nickel mine.
Prior to reopening the mine, CNM, through its local subsidiary, Mabiza Resources Ltd (MRL), conducted numerous studies on how to improve the operation to enable the mine to come back to productivity.
After successfully securing re-start finance to the tune of US$40 million, the decision was taken in June 2018 to bring the mine back into production.
A successful blast underground was undertaken in September. The first-ever Dense Media Separator (DMS) Plant in Zambia, which will improve the head grade of nickel from 1 percent to 2 percent and improve recoveries, has also been constructed.
This means more value for nickel, one of the most versatile metals found on earth used for alloying elements, coatings, batteries, kitchen wares, mobile phones, medical equipment, transport, buildings, power generation and jewellery, among many other uses.
There is no doubt that the reopening of Nickel Mine and subsequent exportation of nickel ore comes with economic dividends that will contribute to attaining the 2030 vision of becoming a middle-income country.
The mine which is located in one of the areas affected by drought, will help improve the living standards of the local people through job creation.
The reopening of the mine and processing activities will result in 400 direct and 350 indirect jobs through contractors, subcontractors and spill over effects as a result of operations at the mine.
For its projected lifespan of seven years, the mine is expected to contribute revenue worth US$150 million to government coffers through salaries, taxes, payments for mine consumables such as power, cement and fuel and corporate social responsibility.
It is commendable that before the mine even starts operations, it has already built a school and clinic in the area. This is a sign of good corporate citizenship.
It is therefore hoped that Munali Nickel Mine will continue with the similar gestures and even more as it starts reaping profits from production.
The mine will also do well to heed President Lungu’s advice to prioritise Zambian companies and products when it comes to procurements as a way of supporting the development of local businesses.
It is a known fact that minerals are a wasting asset. It is therefore important that the locals get a fair share from their natural resources.
Mines need to be sincere by ensuring a win-win situation with the locals.
We know that for a long time Zambia has not been able to harness real value from its minerals because some mines, have not been sincere in declaring their production and paying taxes.
We implore Munali Nickel Mine to ensure that it complies with the industry regulations, which include honouring tax obligations.
It is good that the mine has promised to ensure that the lifespan of the mine is prolonged from six to at least 10 to 15 years.
This will allow the country to derive more value.
It is elating to hear that traditional leaders and the community living around the area are cooperative and supportive to the investment.
This is indeed commendable because for the mine to excel and provide the much-needed benefits to the locals it needs their support and hard work.
In as much as Government is putting good policies and building infrastructure to support investors, locals too have a role to play.

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