Mines Minister Richard Musukwa says government is not averse to granting gold mining licenses only to Zambians, but notes that being a high capital-intensive field, mining works better when locals collaborate with foreign investors.
Speaking to journalists during the North-West Expo Zambia 2019, Sunday, Musukwa said it was difficult for Zambians to have major shareholding in the mines because they did not invest the bigger part of the needed capital.
“Currently, there are licences that are restricted to local people. In fact, our small scale miners, which is an exclusive license for Zambians…we expect that Zambians should be able to take advantage of these licences in order to grow our operations. You know, mining is a very expensive undertaking and highly intensive in terms of recourses, equipment and capital and as such the issue of ensuring that they partner with foreign investors is quite key and what government is encouraging is Corporation between Zambian and foreign entities and in terms of percentage, really, it is up to the muscle of Zambians in terms of how much they negotiate in terms of percentages. What happens is that if you’re going to invest in a mining operation with such huge capital, you need to have control of the company before you can put in resources and that’s where parameters of 49, 50 comes in. You can’t have 59 percent when you’re not putting any resource, all you have is a license, no!” Musukwa said.
“You need to have resource together with a license in order to ensure that you get proper investment. We’re encouraging Zambians to start operations of their own. Where in fact, they should be majority shareholders and others are monitory shareholders. But also, we are encouraging foreigners to have operations of their own where they can have majority shareholding and Zambians must be able to contribute in terms of minority shareholding.”
He said government would revoke some licenses that had been dormant for a long time to pave way for serious investors.
“What we’d like to encourage our nationals is that if there are people who are going to develop our mining industry, it is the Zambians themselves. Zambians must rise up and be counted and be counted in terms of mining operations. As we speak, we have several licences which are being held for speculation. Most of them, idle licences. In short, most of our ground is covered by licences which are not operational. So what we’re doing in line with the presidential directive, and consistent with the law, to cancel all inactive licences that have been held for speculative reasons so that we can free our country for serious, credible investors and local people to invest in the mining sector. Where we are, if we exploited most of these opportunities in terms of mineralisation, we’d be able to generate huge resources that can contribute significantly to our country’s resources in terms of road infrastructure, education and Health and also we’d be able to mop up resources to support the budget. We can no longer continue to ask for handouts and loans from third party and other sources when we are able to mobilise these resources from our mineral resources,” said Musukwa.