First Quantum Minerals’ establishment of a multi-facility economic zone in Kalumbila, Zambia to create sustainable jobs is well underway after the company celebrated the official opening of a US$50 million mill ball factory near its Sentinel mine.
The investment by ME Long Teng Grinding Media Zambia is the latest development in First Quantum Minerals’ (FQM’s) six-year bid to establish a multi-facility economic zone (MFEZ), which has yet to receive official government designation.
The mill ball plant is expected to create up to 200 jobs for local community, with an output of 120 000 t of high-end grinding media a year to service mines across the region.
Ding Junhua, Vice President of Long Teng Special Steel, which is a Chilean-Chinese joint venture, said the establishment of ME Long Teng Grinding Media was initiated in response to the “One Belt and One Road policy” of China, in accordance with the friendly relationship between Zambia and China, and to be of service to First Quantum and the local market.
He added that the establishment of the mill ball plant could not be possible without the attention and support of council of Kalumbila, government of Zambia, Embassy of Chile, Embassy of China, First Quantum Minerals, the diligence of the management team of ME Long Teng and the construction contractors in the last 18 months to make the factory happen.
The factory is expected to play a vital role in bringing in much-needed foreign exchange. Currently, all the mining companies in the region are importing mill balls from China. But once fully operational, the company will supply neighbouring countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Speaking at the opening of the multi-million dollar plant, Zambia’s Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Hon. Christopher Yaluma said the project underpinned government’s policy of adding value to Zambia’s natural resources, and that government supported investment that enhance economic growth and business opportunities.
“Kalumbila [mine] has invested a large amount of money to develop this township to meet the necessary requirements for a place to be called a district. It has already met these requirements and it is growing at a very fast rate… we do not want to see Kalumbila become a ghost town after mining has been concluded. Come 25 years Kalumbila will still remain a powerful district, beating all others because of the investment and facility we are seeing coming in here,” said Yaluma.
Kalumbila Town Development Corporation town superintendent Michael Kabungo said the Kalumbila Industrial Park functioned as a key part of the larger Kalumbila town development project and to carry on beyond the lifespan of Sentinel mine.
“The Industrial Park is expected to make a huge contribution to the growth of medium to large industries in Kalumbila, while also increasing job opportunities through spin-off commercial activities in the region,” Kabungo noted.
He added that the multi-million dollar Industrial Park had attracted interest from various investors ranging from mine equipment suppliers and manufacturers to companies in contraction, retail, hospitality, finance, warehousing, food processing, catering and other service industries.
For FQM, responsibility around the Trident concession includes a commitment to work with all stakeholders to create a community that continues to thrive on its own strength long after the mine has completed its commercial lifespan.
The MFEZ concept falls under the auspices of the Triangle of Hope (ToH) initiative introduced to Zambia in 2005 by the Japanese Government through Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA).
Government through the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry has explained that the economic zones are special industrial zones for both export-oriented and domestic-oriented industries. The zones will have the well-appointed infrastructure in place to attract and facilitate establishment of world-class enterprises in the zone.