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Local Investors a Must

MINING will for a very long time continue being part of Zambia’s economic development. There is abundant evidence of this right across the country.
What may not be in abundance, however, is information or plans on how best Zambia will manage this resource.
It is heartening though that State enterprises are earnestly taking a keen interest in being direct participants in this activity.
A case in point is the revelation by the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines-Investments Holding (ZCCM-IH) that it plans to invest US$2.4 million in a manganese plant in Serenje district, Central Province.
According to ZCCM-IH, operations at the mine are set to start in the next two months. The mine has potential to produce about 20,000 tonnes of manganese per annum.
Kabundi Resources Limited, a subsidiary of ZCCM-IH, will oversee the management of the mine, which will create 300 jobs for the local people.
This decision is good news for the country as a whole, the people of Central Province, in general, and Serenje, in particular.
For a long time, the country’s major mining activities were confined to Copperbelt Province. This contributed to a massive rural–urban drift as citizens from various parts of the country flocked to the Copperbelt in search of jobs and business.
But today, mining in Zambia is becoming even more entrenched with a wide range of activities in virtually all of its 10 provinces: copper and cobalt in North-Western Province; manganese in Luapula and Central provinces, gold in Eastern Province, as well as gems and coal in Western and Southern provinces.
Of course, there are a lot more activities than these examples. The bottom line is that the mining activities are spreading.
Notably though, most of these mines are in private hands.
That is why it is heartening that ZCCM-IH, a firm with over 70 percent ownership by Government, is expanding its activities by investing in manganese mining in Serenje.
Zambia needs foreign investors in all sectors of the economy but the best investors should be the local ones, especially those who internalise most of their earnings.
ZCCM-IH is one of such local investors. It should, therefore, be encouraged to make the most of its vantage position to grow the sector for the good of Zambia.
Mining accounts for 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and about 70 percent of total export value.
The mining sector is, therefore, Government’s cash cow as well as a major employer with tens of thousands of jobs created directly and indirectly.
Despite the focus having been on copper and emeralds, there has always been this belief that the country also has very good potential for further discoveries.
ZCCM-IH has moved a step ahead by converting potential into reality by ensuring that mining is actualised, and more importantly at a comparatively massive scale.
By beginning operations through Kabundi Resources Limited, its subsidiary, ZCCM–IH has taken care of concerns that minerals are not bringing as much benefit as they should.
This is given that ZCCM-IH intends to diversify its portfolio by venturing into mining and manufacturing.
Zambia is endowed with so much mineral wealth that some of the minerals are now being mined by artisans.
This is what is happening to manganese deposits in Luapula as well as gold deposits in Luano, Central Province, Rufunsa in Lusaka Province and several parts of Eastern Province.
Zambia produces about 700 tonnes of amethyst annually. These precious stones are found in Mapatizya in Kalomo and Mumbwa-Namwala areas.
It is good that ZCCM-IH intends to explore for mineral wealth in Eastern Province besides buying gold from small-scale miners.
ZCCM-IH should not be a mere spectator in this sector, where foreign investors and illegal miners are cashing in.
With ZCCM-IH being proactive, there is hope that the country will benefit more from its mineral endowment.
Zambia should not be in financial challenges amidst plenty of natural and mineral wealth.
We hope that other local institutions or companies will emulate ZCCM-IH by taking stock of other natural resources such as timber, especially the much sought for mukula and fish, which are not benefitting the country sufficiently.
Zambia must have more of its own investors.

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