Grizzly Mining Company’s fifth auction sale of Emeralds opened at Lusaka’s Intercontinental Hotel, Monday, with the company reiterating its concern over the enactment of the 2019 mining fiscal regime.

Grizzly Mining chief executive officer Abdoul Ba resubmitted to government that the gemstones industry, and his company in particular, will be adversely affected with the changes to taxes and royalties as announced in this year’s national budget.

The 2019 mining fiscal regime, which took effect on January 1 this year, has seen an increase in mineral royalty rates by 1.5 percentage points at all levels of the sliding scale.

It also introduced import duties of five per cent on copper and cobalt, while also hiking export duty on precious stones and gemstones to a rate of 15 per cent, a situation that had previously prompted mining companies to threaten job cuts.

“We are even more concerned because as we draw closer to the implementation date, we still have not received any assurance on how government will address our concerns and ensure that an enabling environment, which will guarantee that the business will operate in a more sustainable manner,” Ba said.

“We are, however, still convinced that ours is a listening government capable of creating a win-win tax environment situation for both business and government. We, therefore, urge the government to seriously reconsider the cries of the industry in general and the gemstone sector in particular.”

He pledged the gemstone industry’s continued support of government’s policies and vision towards the attainment of development and uplifting the people out of poverty.

Ba noted that Grizzly Mining Company had impacted positively on the local community in Lufwanyama District on the Copperbelt Province as 70 per cent of its employees were locals.

“We fully support government through our Corporate Social Responsibility programmes in ensuring that objectives of job creation and poverty alleviation, education for all, provision of good healthcare to all citizens and bringing of development to rural communities are realised. We also support local Zambian businesses as we have more than 1,000 local suppliers doing business with us,” he said.

Ba also thanked government for various incentives it had so far continued rendering to gemstone mining in the country.

Grizzly Mining Company had over the years grown from being a holder of a small-scale to a holder of a large-scale mining license with a total workforce of more than 875.

And officially opening the 2019 gemstone auction sale, which attracted customers from around the world, Mines Minister Richard Musukwa said government recognised and appreciated the efforts of emerald miners.

Musukwa said government, and particularly his Ministry, wanted the gemstone mining industry to grow from the current two big entities.

In a message read by Ministry of Mines Permanent Secretary Paul Chanda, Musukwa noted with concern the slackening adherence to safety laws by some mining companies resulting in the recent loss of lives.

The Minister hailed Grizzly Mining Company for not having reported any fatal accident, and urged other players in the industry to ensure that workers operated in a safe, healthy and environment-friendly atmosphere.

“To you, the customers from all over the world; we welcome you and thank you for turning up. From the money you bring to buy these gemstones, we get the taxes, which go towards the improvement of our people’s welfare. For that we say thank you so much, please keep coming, we love you here in Zambia from wherever you have come from,” said Musukwa.

Musukwa also called on gemstone customers that came for the auction sale to consider establishing a gemstone processing plant in Zambia, which he believed would lead to more profits.
– Story courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS.