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International miners seek security in Zambia

Maxwell Mwale,
Zambian Minister
of Mines
Lusaka, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 03 August 2009 – International mining companies want assurance of tenure on their assets, as well as a clear legislation process before they plough their money into African countries with mining potential.

Making this pronouncement in an interview here with Bloomberg News, Zambian Chamber of Mines president Nathan Chishimba said higher copper prices would benefit copper miners in Zambia, provided the government’s mining policies satisfied the needs of investors.

“Higher copper prices are a good development for copper producers like Zambia, but government policies should be consistent to encourage more investment,” he added. “The chamber is happy with the political will shown by the Zambian government to increase production of the metal, but investors need policies that benefit them as well.”

The Zambian government plans to raise its stake in all foreign-owned copper mines to 25% from 15%, according to mines minister Maxwell Mwale. “The move will allow the government to have a bigger say in the running of the mines and to prevent closures,” he said.

Labour unions have also asked the government to increase its stake in mines to end job losses.

Copper has gained almost 87% in London this year, after plunging 64% in the second half of 2008. Copper makes up two-thirds of exports in Zambia, and the slump in prices slashed fiscal revenue and forced the government to seek more than US$200 million (R1.6 billion) in emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund to boost foreign currency reserves.

“Existing and potential investors are watching the situation with keen interest,” Chishimba said.

“We believe that the government will do its best to ensure both parties benefit from the higher copper price and increased demand for the metal,” he added.