First Quantum Minerals has called on the Zambian government to improve electricity supply, grant the company a multi-facility economic zone licence at Kalumbila and to rehabilitate the Solwezi-Chingola road.
The company, Zambia’s largest taxpayer, has in turn pledged to continue increasing procurement from local suppliers, support roadworks on Solwezi road and enhance the skills of the 8 500 local workers it employs.
First Quantum country manager Gen. Kingsley Chinkuli added that confidence in the competitiveness and stability of the mining tax regime was a prerequisite to the company’s continued investment and achieving the economies of scale necessary to survive while copper prices were depressed.
“Our mines are low grade, meaning that we must process high volumes of ore and achieve maximum efficiency in order to be profitable. Every element of our production cost, including electricity, transport and procurement, must be efficient for us to stay in profit and thus pay taxes, create employment and help grow the economy,” said Chinkuli.
He claimed that what is good for First Quantum was good for Zambia.
Zambian Finance Minister Felix Mutati assured First Quantum of the government’s continued support and undertook to address “bottlenecks” in power supply and the policy environment, as well as bureaucracy, which is delaying the approval of projects.
He said the government’s goal was to resolve the bottlenecks within the next two weeks, in order to unlock a further planned $1.2 billion investment of First Quantum in the country.
First Quantum owns the two biggest mines in the country, namely, the Sentinel mine at Kalumbila and the Kansanshi mine and smelter in Solwezi.