Zambian mines minister
Maxwell Mwale
 
Lusaka, Zambia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 20 January 2010 – Zambia’s copper export earnings climbed sharply in the fourth quarter of 2009 helping to swell the surplus on the trade account, but a change in the tax regime saw the government earn less revenue from mining.

Revealing this in a statement issued here, the Zambian central bank said copper export earnings had risen to US$984.6 million (R7.4 billion) in the fourth quarter of 2009 “’ almost 50% above the US$666.7 million (R5 billion) in the same period in 2008. Cobalt export earnings were at US$63.6 million (R477 million) from US$45.3 million (R340 million) the previous year “’ an increase of 40%.

Zambia is Africa’s top producer of copper and the industry is the mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than 60% of the country’s foreign currency earnings.

The country’s total export earnings reached US$1.3 billion (almost R10 billion) in the three months to December 2009, compared with US$910.1 million (close to R7 billion) in the same period the previous year, the central bank said in its review of the fourth quarter.

Zambia last year abolished a 25% mineral windfall tax and mines minister Maxwell Mwale said the government had no plans to reintroduce it despite pressure to do so.

“The drop in tax revenues paid by mining companies was largely as a result of the global financial crisis, which had forced most of them to scale down their operations,” central bank Governor Caleb Fundanga said here. He told Reuters the economy was likely to grow by 7% this year, and said this was partly due to the recovery in copper exports.