NANCY MWAPE, Lusaka
CHINA has set aside US$50 million for the construction of a vocational skills training centre at Chambeshi Multi-Facility Economic Zone (MFEZ) to address skills gaps in the mining sector.
The project is under China Aid to Africa, which is aimed at bilateral trade and development on the continent.
China Non-ferrous Metal Mining group director of training Liang Chimin said the centre, which will be funded by the Chinese government, will target school-leavers taking up mining engineering courses.
In an interview on Wednesday, Professor Liang said once discussions are concluded with the Government, China will by next year build the training centre, which has been necessitated by the boom in the mining industry due to a number of capital intensive investments that call for skilled labour.
“The Chinese government wants to build a vocational college to address the skills gap in mining companies. The college will enrol grade 12 school-leavers who will be employed in Chinese mining companies, and once they complete their education, they will be offered jobs in those firms,” he said.
Currently, China Non-ferrous Metal Mining group is operating three mines in the Chambeshi MFEZ, namely NFC Africa Mining Plc, Chambishi Copper Smelter Limited and Sino-Metals Leach Zambia that are listed in Hong Kong.
Sino-Metals Leach started its operation in 2006 and has been called an “energy-saving model enterprise” by the Zambian government while the Chambishi Copper Smelter started operating in 2009.
Prof Liang said the training college will not only cater for students from Chinese mining companies but also the industry as a whole.
He said some students will be sent to that country for further training to enhance the transfer of skills.
“The Chinese government also wants to prepare Zambian lecturers who will be sent to China for training and come back as lecturers at the vocational training college. We hope to train 40 people for a start,” he said.
He said most of the Chinese mining companies have invested heavily in modern equipment, which most workers have challenges to operate.