ZAMBIA’s mining skill base has steadily continued to grow owing to technical investment as well as skills development, making it a competitive strength in the sector, the Mining for Zambia report has said. The report said that since the year 2000, the newly privatised skills industry had built on a solid foundation by investing massively in skills development which in turn made the Zambian mining industry acquainted with the current mining technology. The 24-year nationalisation period (1973-1997), during which Zambia’s mining industry was in Government hands, left a noteworthy legacy – a reservoir of high-level mining skills that has served the country well. “More than 40 years after the first wave of Zambia’s mining engineering students started graduating, the industry’s skill base has grown steadily. Today, it is one of the country’s competitive strengths,” reads the report. The report attributed the strength of skills development to theUniversity of Zambia’s School of Mines, which trained more than 1,000 graduates in mining engineering, geology and metallurgy and mineral processing as well as theCopperbelt University (CBU)School of Mines and Mineral Sciences. In addition, the nationalised mining industry under Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) sent large numbers of Zambians to study at leading universities overseas. A further study, found that the proportion of mining expatriates in Zambia was less than 2 percent of the industry workforce, compared to 8 percent in Peru and 17 percent in Tanzania. The dean of the School of Mines at the University of Zambia, Osbert Sikazwe, said that academic standards at the institution were high. Dr Sikazwe said that graduates could be found in high-level careers, both in mining and academia, in countries as diverse as Finland, South Africa and Australia. The report stated that MopaniCopper Mines hadrecently opened a US$20 million technical training centre in Mufulira which featured world-class technology, and would eventually train miners not just from Zambia but from other mining countries as well. At FQM’s Sentinel Mine in North-Western Province, drivers perfect their skills in state-of-the-art simulators which mimic all kinds of weather scenarios and driving conditions. Mines such as BarrickLumwana, Konkola Copper Mines, Mopani and FQM have collectively spent millions of dollars on scholarships both at school and university level, apprenticeships, and the construction and funding of trade schools, the report noted.