Mines and Minerals Development Minister Richard Musukwa has assured citizens that the government does not intend to sell shares to pay bondholders.

And Musukwa says the production of copper by large scale mines across the Zambian mining space from the period January 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020 stood at 646,111.25 tones compared to 590,321.13 in 2019.

Speaking during a press briefing, Thursday, Musukwa said government had no plans of selling its shares in the mining operations

“I can tell you about the issue of bondholders and the issue of shares in the mining industry. I was reading that we needed to sell our shares in various mining houses in order to pay bondholders, no we will not do that. Because the stakes that we hold in various mining entities are stakes on behalf of Zambians and we will need to continue to have a footprint or a say in the sector. If we moved to emotionally sell that, we will actually have no say in the mining sector. So we are contradicting ourselves because Zambians have been asking us to ensure that we have a footprint in the mining sector then today we rise up and sell?” Musukwa wondered.

“What we know is that the issues of bondholders is a challenge which must be mitigated at a different government platform and the issue of shares is a matter that will continue and we have no plans of selling our shares to various mining entities. Such talks will bring uncertainty in the mining sector. I want to assure all investors and all our partners that government has no plans of selling their shares in the mining operations. To the contrary, we would like to ensure that we enhance our position. I also heard talks that we should suspend Mopani discussions as a result of bondholders, these are not related and I am surprised that these suggestions are coming from people who are on the Copperbelt who know the sufferings of our people if you talk about Mopani and KCM. Government is determined to resolve the issues of Mopani and KCM differently from the issues of bondholders which we are also determined to resolve.”

And Musukwa said the increase in copper production represented in excess of over over 55,790.12 tonnes

“The production of copper by large scale mining houses across the Zambian mining space from the period 1st January 2020 to 30th September 2020 stood at 646,111.25 tones compared to 590,321.13 tones recorded during the same period in 2019. This is representing an increase in excess of over 55,790.12 tonnes. The increase is due to increased output by NFCA, Kansanshi Mine, Lumwana and Kalumbila. I must mention in fact that if Konkola Copper Mine and Mopani Copper Mine were operating at maximum in short if they had ramped up their operations without the current challenges that they have we could actually meet our target in excess of over 1 million tones of copper production,” Musukwa said.

“I must say right upfront that government [wants to see that] the issues surrounding KCM and Mopani are resolved at the earliest convenient time. I am reliably informed by my PS that significant progress has been made in terms of concluding the issues surrounding Mopani and in the next couple of weeks, I will be issuing a statement in Parliament to that effect. I am sure this will set to bed all the issues the public, workers and the people of Copperbelt Kitwe in particular and Mufulira have had to wait for such a long time in terms of Mopani. I want to reiterate that government is determined to ensure that the court processes and the issues surrounding KCM are resolved at the earliest convenience. There is no case that lasts forever. People in Chililabombwe, Chingola, parts of Kitwe and Nampundwe have to be assured that their matter is receiving active attention from both government and all stakeholders to ensure that a lasting solution is found.”

He said the production of copper by small scale processing plants had also increased.

“Copper production by the small scale processing plants was at 9,633,856 tones during the period under review recording an increase of 2,871,969 tones over the last years which production hit at 6,771,887 tonnes. The increase in the processing capacity of small scale processing plants in the 3rd quarter of 2020 as compared to that of 2019 is as a result of stabilized power supply to the clients and the importation of copper oil from Congo as a result of the government relaxing the tax in this regard,” he said.

Musukwa said government had developed a gold mining strategy to guide the exploitation of gold in the country.

“Gold has been identified as a strategic mineral that can drive the diversification agenda. In this regard, government has developed a gold mining strategy to guide the exploitation of gold. We are aware that for a long time gold has been exploited by foreigners and illegal miners and in the process government revenue was lost. And that is what the government decided that gold must be exploited in such a manner as a strategic mineral. And to that effect, you know the kind of war that was mounted by illegal mining and several stakeholders that were benefiting from the illegality. For a long time, no one paid any tax from the gold. It was the business of individuals and not for the government,” he said.

“So government had to streamline this operation and ensure that this resource is exploited in a legal manner and that going forward government will ensure that this process is protected so that we galvanize resources from this sector and ensure that it helps to bridge the gap in terms of government financing and debt in terms of taking our country forward. So gold production by Kansanshi mine Plc stood at 2,717.1 kgs compared to last year’s production of 2,920,29 kg. ZCCIM produced a total of 54.8886 kgs of gold at Kasenseli mine, most of which was produced in August and September 2020.”

Musukwa said the decline in the production of cobalt could be attributed to operational challenges at KCM.

“Cobalt production was 215.22 tonnes compared to last year’s production which stood at 296.26 tonnes. The decline in production can be attributed to operational challenges at KCM . nickel production was 4,522.33 tonnes compared to last year’s production of 1,641.06 tonnes. The increase in production can be attributed to the ramping up of production at Mabiza resources,” Musukwa said.

He said the reduction in Emerald production was as a result of suspension of operations at Kagem.

“Emerald/beryl production during the period under review was 5,857.18 kgs while that for the same period in 2019 was 16,679.61 kgs. The reduction in emerald/beryl production was due to: suspension of operations at Kagem mine from April 2020 due to Covid 19; and scaling down of operations by grizzly from March to October by 50 percent . The restrictions of movement in most countries meant that the mining houses could not hold emerald auctions. I am delighted to report to you that since the relaxing of restrictions in most countries, one auction for emeralds was held in October 2020 at which a revenue of US$ 12 million was generated. The anticipation was to generate about half of what was generated at this auction,” said Musukwa.