By Nation Reporter
GOVERNMENT will always stand ready to render support to investors with resolute determination to contribute to the growth of the mining industry, President Edgar Lungu has said.
President Lungu said the mining sector was the backbone of the economy, and needed to be viable.
The Head of State stated that government was committed to continue working with all stakeholders to ensure a conducive environment where mines could operate efficiently and profitably.
President Lungu was speaking during the official launch of the Synclinorium Shaft at Mopani Copper Mine in Kitwe yesterday.
“As you know, mining is the backbone of our economy, but this should not make us complacent in our commitment to the national programme on economic diversification,” President Lungu said.
He said the project had renewed hope not only to the mining industry, but to the whole nation also, as it had come at a time when mines were facing some challenges.
“This project is one of the many projects to kick-start a revival on the Copperbelt because it has come at a difficult time when metal prices had plummeted on the global market.
“Such efforts by Mopani promises continued investment which will stir growth in the mining sector, thereby resulting in tangible economic benefits for the Zambian people. This is what a responsible government wishes for its people,” President Lungu said.
The Head of State reiterated the need to strengthen partnership between government and the private sector, assuring investors of government’s unwavering support.
“Government’s continued support to mining companies has instilled confidence in investors to further embark on expansion projects during this period of low metal prices.
“This calls for the transformation of our mineral wealth into sustainable development and strong partnerships between government and the private investors with financial resources and expertise. We are determined to succeed. We are focused on constantly celebrating success rather than labour under the weight of ill-wish,” he said.
President Lungu also urged investors to create opportunities for Zambians to be part of developments to alleviate the effects of job losses that occurred as a result of scaling down of mining operations.
He promised the Zambian people that government would keep mining in the country alive by pursing a robust diversification programme to forestall the shocks that come with difficulties of low metal prices.
And speaking earlier, Mopani Copper Mines chief executive officer Johan Jansen said the project was of economic significance not only to Mopani, but to the nation as a whole.
Mr. Janson disclosed that the shaft was constructed at a cost of US$323 million and was aimed at extending the life of the mine by 25-30 years beyond the current expected depletion dates of the existing reserves.
He said the shaft would secure jobs which would have otherwise been lost as a result of depletion of some mining areas.
And Mines Minister Christopher Yaluma thanked Mopani for the asset, saying that it was a milestone in the mining sector.