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Uniform policies key to success in mining – Chikwanda

MINISTER of Finance Alexander Chikwanda (foreground) cuts a ribbon to commission a semi-detached housing block for the Zambia Revenue Authority officers at Mokambo border post in Mufulira built at a cost of K824,500. Looking on is ZRA commissioner-general Berlin Msiska (second from left) and Mufulira district commissioner Chanda Kabwe (third from right) . Picture: NKOMBO KACHEMBA.

NKWETO MFULA, Chingola & MATTHEW KABAMBA, Chililabombwe
GOVERNMENT says harmonisation of policies to stimulate participation of the mining sector and other players in the economy is a key factor in national development.
Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda said Government has been discussing issues of mutual concern with mining companies.
Mr Chikwanda said Government is conducting a counter process on issues raised relating to mineral royalty tax and Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds by mining companies.
The minister was speaking yesterday in separate meetings with Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and Lubambe Mine managements in Chingola and Chililabombwe.
“This is the reason we need to consult as Government and harmonise things,” Mr Chikwanda said.
He said Government is aware that there is no way investors can run mines without constant investment.
The minister said this is why Government is exploring ways to establish and resolve impediments of investment in the mining sector.
“The confusion comes when we allow marketers and non-governmental organisations to become tax experts and talk about the matter,” Mr Chikwanda said.
He said matters to do with policy will be looked at by Government while tax administration is a preserve of Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), which is made up of experts.
“Our doors are always open to the mining sector, if you feel there are issues to interact on,” Mr Chikwanda said.
The minister also said he is aware of the challenges that the mining industry is facing and Government will find ways to address them.
He also said ZRA commissioner general Berlin Msiska met officials from the Chamber of Mines of Zambia (CMZ) to discuss concerns raised by mining companies.
“As Government we cannot have anything to say until we have an opinion from the Attorney General,” Mr Chikwanda said.
He said Government will come up with policies that are accommodative on matters of concern and to ensure that all businesses are functioning properly.
Lubambe Mine Limited manager Peter Lewarne said the mining firm has a lifespan of 28 years.
Mr Lewarne said the company has designed production capacity of 208,000 tonnes per annum.
“Right now we are around 150,000 tonnes which is around 72 percent of the production capacity,” he said.
KCM chief executive officer Steven Din said the Vedanta Resources Plc-owned mine has a lifespan of about 50 years.
He said KCM believes that there is more it can do and is working on a strategy to enhance local economic development.
Mr Din said KCM will seek to partner with international donors because experience has shown that local partners with a long-term economic base are attractive for them.

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