President Banda Welcomes Boost to Zambian Mining Sector

Oct 14, 2010, 06:34 ET from State House Lusaka, Republic of Zambia

LUSAKA, Zambia, October 14, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- His Excellency Mr. Rupiah Banda has today inaugurated the new Konkola North copper mine in an official groundbreaking ceremony.

Speaking at the new mine site, the fifth he has opened since taking office in 2008, President Banda congratulated its owners Konnoco, a joint venture between South Africa's African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) and Brazilian mining specialists Vale, for making the project a reality.

The mine, in Chililabombwe, represents an investment of US $380 million and is expected, on completion in two years time, to produce 45,000 tonnes of copper per year, contributing to a nationwide copper production target of 1 million tonnes by 2013.

The project is expected to create 1,500 jobs in the construction phase and 1,500 more when the mine is fully operational. These are in addition to jobs created by supplying goods and services to the mine.

Speaking at the groundbreaking, President Banda said: "I congratulate the people of Chililabombwe and join them in looking forward to the development and prosperity that this new mine will bring to the area. I also congratulate ARM and Vale in continuing the exploration of Konkola North ore deposits in order to establish a commercially viable mining operation.

"This demonstrates the success both of my government's policy of nurturing an investment climate that encourages the sector's growth, and of the privatization of Zambia's mining sector 12 years ago, which together have breathed new life into Zambian mineral mining, despite the recent global economic recession.

"Development such as this is good news for Zambia and I am delighted that the privatization of the mining industry is bearing the fruit that was desired and anticipated."

The President highlighted the fact that all the mines operated by ZCCM Ltd before privatization are now operational, with some also expanding, and that 20,000 new mining jobs have been created. He also drew his audience's attention to the widespread new mineral exploration works being carried out across Zambia to diversify the mining sector and the series of new mines coming on stream.

President Banda continued: "The vision of my government is to have a vibrant, well organized mining industry contributing more than 20% to the Gross Domestic Product and an employment level that will significantly reduce poverty in the next five years.

"The mining sector is the backbone of our economy and the single sector that fuels growth. My government will continue to provide a competitive tax regime that will not jeopardize Zambia's attractiveness to investors. I will ensure stability in the industry and will continue to encourage investment. I wish Konkola North copper mine every success."

This is the fifth mine that President Banda has opened since taking office in 2008. He has opened Lumwana Copper Mines in Northwestern Province and the Konkola Deep Mining Project in the Copperbelt Province, as well as reopening the Munali Nickel Mine in Southern Province and the Luanshya Copper Mines in Copperbelt Province.

SOURCE State House Lusaka, Republic of Zambia