News

State expects growth in emerald, gemstone

NKWETO MFULA, Chingola
GOVERNMENT anticipates rapid growth in the emerald and gemstone sub-sector following its change of policy on the shareholding structure to enable foreign investors to hold majority shares in mining projects when they partner with owners of mines in Zambia.
And Mines and Minerals Development permanent secretary Paul Chanda says there is need for police to remove illegal miners from the restricted area in Lufwanyama district on the Copperbelt to attract investment in the sector.
Mr Chanda said in an interview following the change in the shareholding structure, which would enable a foreign investor to own more shares, the inquiries for partnerships with the local mining companies had increased.
The shareholding for the gemstone and emerald sub-sector was 51.5 percent for locals, while foreign investors held minority shares.
“People were reluctant to put in money. Zambians have no capital and need to find partners and one way of encouraging partnerships is to enable the financiers to own more shares,” Mr Chanda said.
And Mr Chanda says the ministry would ask Inspector-General Kakoma Kanganja to deal with increased illegal mining activities in Lufwanyama district on the Copperbelt.
“Anybody without a mining licence or trading and export permits will be flushed out. That is a restricted area and only licensed traders will be allowed to trade,” he said.
Mr Chanda said illegal gemstone and emerald miners invading the restricted area should be removed because they were scaring away potential investors.
“In this sector, even buyers need to have a licence. Everybody requires a licence at all levels of trade,” he said.
And Emerald and Semi-precious stone Mining Association of Zambia president Victor Kalesha is concerned about increased illegal mining in the sub-sector.
Mr Kalesha urged the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development to work together with Ministry of Home Affairs to quickly apply the law so that the area regained its restricted status.
“We now have seen people owning farms in the emerald restricted area disregarding the Mines and Minerals Act, which forbids settlers in the restricted area,” he said.
Mr Kalesha said only when the area was restricted would it attract investors as it would be secure.

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