THE Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) has embarked on the construction of the technical skills training facility in Mufulira at a of US$15 million.
MCM chief executive officer Danny Callow said the facility was aimed at producing world-class artisans who would be ready to take up immediate challenges in the mining industry.
Mr Callow who was speaking at the University of Zambia (UNZA) School of Mines 2012 Symposium in Lusaka yesterday said one of the major benefits of the projects would be the reduction in reliance on foreignskills and expertise.
He said the training centre which was expected to be completed by July 2013, would be mirrored in global best practice, and would have the ability to accommodate 100 trainees on site and would take trainees through a Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) accredited course to graduate.
Mr Callow said the training centre would also help to address some of the problems the country was facing in terms of skills development.
Mr Callow said MCM shared the vision of the School of Mines which seeks to provide higher education that was responsive to the needs of the industry and society.
"We realise that with a rapidly growing mining industry, Zambia today needs these skills much more than ever before and this is what will drive the development of the mining sector and attainment of the targeted increase in production, which was targeted at 1.5 tonnes per annum by 2016.
Mr Callow further said that MCM would continue to partner with the University and other tertiary institutions to offer the required industrial experience with a view to assisting graduates attain acceptable levels of skills competencies required to fit into the mining industry but that cannot be done by one party.
This skills shortage, Mr Callow said had led to serious competition among mining companies for the few available skilled people.
Mr Callow said, the investment had undoubtedly contributed to the significant improvement in terms of national copper output which currently stands at 700,000 tonnes from around 250,000 tonnes at privatisation.
Since the privatisation of ZCCM, Zambia has seen more investment in the mining sector amounting to over US$ 6 billion by 2011, most of which has gone into setting up of completely new mines.