Mines Minister Richard Musukwa says rising copper prices on the international market will lead to an increase in job opportunities in the mining industry.

In an interview, Musukwa said the increase in copper prices on the international market would subsequently trigger an increase in job opportunities.

Copper prices on the international market breached the US$7,000 per tonne threshold in June for the first time since February this year, amidst rising concerns of sustained supply, according to market data.

According to the London Metal Exchange (LME), prices of the red metal have leaped to around US $7,197.00 per tonne by mid-June compared to lows of US $6,500 by the end of March.

The last time copper prices breached the US $7,000 threshold was by mid-February, when prices were around US $7,159.00 per tonne.

“Obviously, when you have stability in terms of the price, it has a multiplier effect. You know, we have operations like Mopani [Copper Mines]; Mopani will be ramping up various operations in stages. After 3 months, they open up, and I think that the increase in price of copper at the international market is working in our favour. We need to see that more of our people, especially highly-trained and skilled mining gurus who are actually plying their skills abroad, are attracted back home and contributing [to] the growth of the mining industry,” Musukwa told News Diggers!, Tuesday.

And Musukwa said that government has enhance security measures in the Rufunsa, Vubwi and Petauke districts to curb the illegalities in increased exploitation of mineral resources.

He disclosed that the Mines Ministry found that mining entities in the area had non-operational licenses, adding that the Ministry has since sent default notices and warned the culprits.

“Yes, we know of the illegal activities in the Eastern Province. We have enhanced security measures for the exploitation of gold in Rufunsa, Petauke, Vubwi, and we have been working on the security cluster with Zambia Police to ensure that all illegal exploitation of the gold is immediately stopped. And in fact, we found that there a lot of people who had licenses, which were not operational. We have since sent them default notices so that we can only allow properly-licensed mining entities to operate in that area. And secondly, what government has done is that we are buying some processing equipment through ZCCM-IH, which will be stationed in Rufunsa so as to ensure that all our local people who are involved in these activities will be able to bring all these resources to the processing plant, which will host. As government, we will like to continue providing a simple, reliable, stable fiscal regime to promote investment in the mining sector,” Musukwa added.

He also said government has ensured that there is policy consistency in the sector to attract investors to invest in gold mines in Eastern Province.

“We would like to ensure that we promote the industry by providing a simple, flexible but stable fiscal regime, which should promote investment. And in our quest to do this as a government, we would also like to provide security of tenure to our license holders. So that, you know, promotes investment. So, we would like to give comfort to our investors that the policy framework which we have put in place here to stay and meant to ensure that we create a platform where we can promote investment,” he said.

Earlier, at the 7th Alternative Mining Indaba held at Cresta Golfview Hotel, Lusaka, Musukwa said government has put in place measures to ensure transparency and accountability in the entire life-cycle of mining from the licensing processes, development and operation, among others for the benefit of all.

“In order for all to benefit from the exploitation of our mineral resources there is need for stakeholders’ participation. To this effect, government has put in place measures to ensure transparency and accountability in the entire life cycle of mining from the licensing processes, development, operation and closure. The Mines and Minerals Development Act provides for stakeholder involvement at all stages. We are witness to the benefits that mining has on the economy in the history of this country. Although mining is a wasting asset, it can be used to generate wealth for the present and future generations,” said Musukwa.