Government has called for the need to develop a comprehensive mineral resources development policy which will push the country to benefit from its mineral deposits.
Speaking when he officially opened the Mines and Mineral Consultative Meeting in Kasama, Northern Province Permanent Secretary, Bernard Mpundu noted that the country has witnessed the discovery of mineral deposits in almost all districts which Zambians must benefit from.
Mr. Mpundu said government through the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development has also recognized the need to maximize the benefits from the exploitation of identified mineral resources.
The Permanent Secretary pointed out that the emergence of electric vehicles on the market presents an opportunity for the country to benefit from its mineral resources.
He added that the aspiration of government to increase copper production to three million metric tons per annum in the next 10 years will also provide an opportunity for investment in the mining sector.
Mr. Mpundu stated the country has learnt lessons from the mineral resources development policy of 2013 which was under implementation, including the low participation of Zambians across the mineral value chain.
‘It also had low or lack of value addition, illegal mining and trade in gold, manganese among others, informal, illegal and sustainable artisanal and small scale mining” he said.
Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development Senior Planner Edward Shabani, indicated that the mining industry is facing challenges among them the lack of serious investment, accountability, and transparency about how much is extracted.
He said the country has since embarked on a consultative process with stakeholders to develop a new minerals policy which will be in line with the aspiration of both the country and the African continent.
He also noted that the mining sector does not have adequate information about what the country has in terms of mineral wealth because it is not fully mapped.
“Growing up we only knew that Copperbelt was the only mining area, we do not know fully what sits in Muchinga and Northern.” He said.
Mr. Shabani further explained that the mining industry would love to see Zambians participate in the mineral value chain.
Meanwhile, the traditional leaders who were represented by a researcher, Andrew Njovu during the meeting submitted that the new policy should compel foreign investors to undertake Corporate Social Responsibility.
Mr. Njobvu said traditional leaders want to ensure that the issuance of mining licenses should be decentralized, adding that mining investors should first discuss with the grassroots before being issued with the licenses.