Lusaka, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 05 January 2012 – The Zambian government is preparing to lift the ban on the issuance of mining licences by the end of this month, having finalised arrangements for the introduction of a new and more efficient licensing system.

Making this announcement, mines and natural resources minister Wilbur Simuusa said in an interview with “The Times of Zambia” that there had been good progress made in cleaning up the irregularities which had prompted the ban.

In October last year government suspended the issuance of new mining licences after finding several irregularities and bureaucracy in the manner in which business was being conducted at the Mines Registry Department. “We intend to make an announcement on the lifting of the ban on mining licences by the end of January.

The delay had forced the Association of Zambian Mineral Exploration Companies (AZMEC) to complain that the indefinite ban had taken too long and needed a time frame.

But the minister said his ministry was more interested in coming up with a system that would serve the mine owners properly.

On the complaint from AZMEC that mine owners were affected since they could not renew their licences or transfer ownership, the minister said those problems were a consequence of the ban but that, measures were being taken to ensure transparency.