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Government sees end to mine tax impasse

The Ministry of Mines says Zambia is still capable of beating the Democratic Republic of Congo’s copper production output because of the country’s favourable conditions.

And the ministry says the ongoing mining fiscal regime impasse that is disturbing the sector will soon be resolved and is sure “everyone will be happy.”

According to the 2015 Deloitte State of Mining in Africa report, new data shows that copper production in the DRC will continue to outstrip Zambian production for the next five years, despite being ranked the least attractive investment destination on the continent in terms of ‘ease of doing business’.

The DRC managed to produce over 900,000 tonnes of copper in 2013, registering a sharp rise, surpassing Zambia’s 754,916 tonnes produced that year.

According to the copper production profile for both countries, production estimates are projected to be around 1.5 million metric tonnes for Zambia, against 1.7 million metric tonnes for the DRC by 2020.

But mines acting permanent secretary Paul Chanda, in an interview, said Zambia was still very capable of beating its northern neighbour as the former enjoyed better socio-economic conditions.

“We are very capable. There are a lot of factors involved in this industry and we have a very stable political environment. Economically, we are doing better, so we command that confidence with the financing institutions, so we will catch up,” he said.

Chanda said the government was in the process of lining up new investors, which would also be expected to add to existing production.

“We are inviting more investors in this industry. It is competitive, but we are trying. Some of our mines are very old, but we are opening up like at Mopani [who are] starting new shafts and when those are completed and smelters coming up, investors will also have to increase production to make use of those huge investments,” he added, explaining that the DRC was only doing well now because they have higher grade copper.

And Chanda said discussions with mining houses over the raised mineral royalties were progressing well.

“They (discussions) are progressing well, although it is still at preliminary level just by way of meeting, so there is a lot of hope. I am sure everyone will be happy since all parties are involved,” said Chanda, without disclosing details of whether cost structures for individual mining companies are critically being analysed.

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