NKOLE MULAMBIA, Ndola
ORIENTAL Quarries managing director Moustafa Saad has urged Government to reduce tax on low-value minerals to stimulate growth of the sector.
Mr Saad said at the just-ended 53rd Zambia International Trade Fair (ZITF) that high taxes are killing the industry hence the need for Government to make adjustments for low producers of low-value minerals such as sand and limestone.
“We as producers of low aggregates have to pay same tax rate as large-scale companies such as First Quantum Minerals, Lumwana and everybody else who produce copper at US$5,000 to US$6,000 per tonne. When our production is US$6 a tonne [and] we pay six percent mineral royalty tax, which is exactly the same as the big mining firms do,” he said.
Apart from the mineral royalty tax, the company pays council tax; value added tax and environmental protection fund among other levies, which contributes to the cost of doing business.
Mr Saad said almost 25 percent goes off to non-productive expenses and that this is killing off the industry where there is vast competition.
He also called on Ministry of Mines to repossess idle mining licences in the quarry industry to allow for new investments.
“Some people have licences for clay fields but are not doing anything on it. Government should not allow people to sit on licences for a long time and not to do anything,” he said.
The company, which started operations in 1969, started crushing lime stones in 1986 with 2,000 tonnes per month and has grown to 5,000 tonnes per day.
Zambia’s mining sector is largely dominated by copper, although it has many deposits and occurrences of other metals and industrial minerals, such as barite, feldspar, graphite, iron ore, kaolin, lead, silica sand, talc and zinc.