Christopher Yaluma, the Zambian minister of Mines, is encouraging the mining industry to work more with local manufacturers as it focuses on building and increasing its manufacturing and supply sector in the country.

Yaluma, who is also the Zambian minister of Energy and Water Development, gave the official opening address at the annual Copperbelt Mining Trade Expo & Conference (CBM-Tec) in Kitwe, Zambia, and reiterated this government intention to both delegates and media.

Despite Yaluma's call for local manufacturing supply development, the majority of exhibitors at this year's CBM-Tec are international or South African-based companies with a presence in Zambia. In response to this observation, Yaluma agreed but "wants to encourage well-established Zambian suppliers to work with or 'joint venture' with local companies to encourage their growth and participation within the Zambian mining industry."

“With Zambian mining companies buying up to USD$1.7 billion worth of manufactured imports annually there is clearly a huge opportunity for the local industry,” says Maybin Nsupila, CEO of the Zambian Association of Manufacturers (ZAM).

According to ZAM's CEO, research by the Chamber of Mines and the International Council of Mining and Metals last year, revealed that a sample of only six of mining companies were buying up to $1.7 billion worth of manufactured imports annually. He continues: “and this is not including capital expenditure. So that is recurrent expenditure. $600 million dollars’ worth was being imported directly by the mining companies and about $1 billion sourced locally but imported. And only a $100 million dollars is coming from here.”

He adds: “so it is a huge opportunity for the local producers and I think we are increasing the potential for the mining companies to contribute to much more sustainable employment creation through backward linkages."

“We are exploring to integrate the local manufacturing industry more into the mining supply chain. We do have companies that are producing very good products and we can arrange certification, but they don’t have access. And we are working towards bridging the information gap between the local manufacturers and the supply chain of the mining companies," Nsupila continues.

"There is also the category of companies whose products are not quite there yet and we need to do a little more to help them get there. For example, a company that is producing good products but doesn’t have the requisite quality certification from a recognised authority.”

ZAM will be launching a new web facility, Zamb2b.com, to bridge the information gap: “we will be unveiling one of the tools that we have developed to bridge the information gap at the event. So we are hoping that to the end of the meeting, we will have gotten a lot more producers and mining companies using this facility. We will be demonstrating how it works and how a company can be part of it.”

CBM-Tec opened in Kitwe today (5 May), and is expecting to host more than 500 visitors and 200 conference delegates for its 100 exhibitors.

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