By ALVIN CHIINGA
GOVERNMENT says that it is working on legislation aimed at enhancing value addition to the countryâ€™s mineral resources in order to create more employment opportunities for Zambians.
Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma said this when he addressed the International Infrastructure and Investment Convention in Johannesburg, South Africa, yesterday.
This is according to a statement issued by press secretary at the Zambian mission in South Africa, Nicky Shabolyo.
Mr Yaluma said Government is revising the Mines and Minerals Act of 2008 to promote value addition in order to enhance benefits from copper and other minerals.
â€œThe revision of the Act is expected to also, among other things, make it easier for Zambians to participate in all activities across the mining value chain,â€ Mr Yaluma said.
He said the law, which is also aimed at enhancing a conducive investment climate for mine investors, is meant to encourage value addition activities in the sector and in the process trigger employment opportunities for Zambians.
Mr Yaluma said that Zambians have â€œtoiledâ€ for long without benefiting from the mines, yet mining has been the countryâ€™s major economic activity from as far back as the 1930s.
He pointed out that Governmentâ€™s vision is to have a vibrant, well-organised public-private partnership-driven mining sector that would contribute in excess of 20 percent to the countryâ€™s gross domestic product.
The minister, who was later hosted on CNBC Africaâ€™s Beyond Markets programme, emphasised that Government wants to see Zambians participate in activities across all mining stages.
He said it was estimated that only one percent of the copper produced in Zambia is utilised in the manufacturing sector while the rest is exported unprocessed.
Mr Yaluma said one of Governmentâ€™s key objectives, which have also been the cry of Zambians for a long time, is to ensure that citizens derive tangible benefits from investments that are being made in the country.
Meanwhile, Mr Yaluma also disclosed that Zambiaâ€™s next biggest economic mainstay after copper will be oil and gas.
Mr Yaluma told CNBC Africa that nine licences were recently granted to successful bidders for gas and oil exploration in Zambia.
He said Government is now seriously encouraging exploration for oil and gas and the country has been demarcated into blocks following recent preliminary results.
He said Zambia seeks to diversify from copper reliance and that the geological mapping exercise currently underway would help Government understand what other natural resources are available.
Mr Yaluma said about 40 percent of the country is not mapped, implying that there are areas with unknown potential.
He said Zambia is inviting independent power producers to participate in the sector.
Mr Yaluma said Government has been working hard to reverse the power deficit the country is facing.
He said 60 megawatts of the 120 megawatts power plant in Itezhi-tezhi will be on stream by the end of the year while another 150 megawatts of thermal power from Maamba Collieries will also be commissioned soon.
By ALVIN CHIINGA