The shares of First Quantum Minerals Ltd, which accounts for more than half of Zambia’s copper production, gained as much as 4.9% in Toronto after Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane told parliament in his budget speech yesterday that the government will make further cuts to copper mining royalties.
In his budget address to parliament, and in a move seen to incentivise mining output, Dr Musokotwane said that restructuring the royalty system will cost the government K2.8 billion in lost revenue next year.
Currently, Zambia uses a sliding scale mining royalty system based on the copper price and under the planned changes, charges will apply on the incremental value in each adjusted price band, as opposed to the aggregate value, Dr Musokotwane told parliament.
In his speech Dr Musokotwane said said that the government plans to spend K167.3 billion kwacha in 2023. About K111.6 billion of that will come from revenue, and the rest from grants and borrowing.
The Minister further said that while K18.2 billion was allocated to external-loan servicing next year, that doesn’t take into account debt restructuring and will be subject to change once the agreement is reached with creditors, he said.
The government has so far made slow progress in efforts to rework its external liabilities that totalled $17.3 billion last year. It’s using the Group of 20’s Common Framework to engage with creditors — a template that required the nation to seek help from the International Monetary Fund. The government has been given assurances by an official bilateral creditors committee that they’re ready to negotiate, thereby unlocking a $1.3 billion IMF bailout.
The government now needs to negotiate with official bilateral creditors a memorandum of understanding for the restructuring, and seek comparable treatment from commercial lenders, including the holders of $3 billion of outstanding eurobonds. The government needs $8.4 billion in debt relief through 2025, according to the IMF. The World Bank said this equates to a 45% cut in net present value for creditors.