TWO Kitwe-based emerald mining firms have signed a US$100 million joint venture deal with the International Finance and Development Corporation (IFDC) which will see their mines developed and transformed into viable enterprises and create at least 800 jobs for the locals.
According to a statement released by IFDC yesterday, Chumwe and Victor Kalesha Emerald Mine last Friday evening in Kitwe signed a joint venture which entails IFDC financing the mines while acquiring major equity in both mines.
The joint venture was signed by IFDC president and chief executive officer Kazi Ahmed and the two mines' director Damson Kalesha.
Under the agreement, IFDC would provide financing for all machinery, operating capital and all costs related to developing the mine.
The joint venture between the two Zambian mines and IFDC was expected to create as many as 800 new jobs.
Mr Ahmed said Zambia was a very attractive investment destination, probably the best in Africa, due to its political stability, predictable policies and enabling business environment
Mr Kalesha said he was optimistic that the signing of the partnership deal marked the beginning of the transformation of his mines into one of the few viable locally managed entities after accessing the much needed long-term financing.
"As a local mining entity, we are happy with the business partnership which will benefit us and IFC. We are optimistic that with the coming of providers of long-term financing, the gemstone mining sector will contribute to the country's development," Mr Kalesha said.
According to a geological survey report, Chumwe Emerald Mine has 40.8 million grammes of emeralds in reserves.
IFDC corporate affairs manager Nkonkomalimba Kafunda said the joint venture was the second deal signed by IFDC in the mining sector and that the firm was looking for more investment opportunities.
"Recently we signed a deal with Elmet Mining for the development of a copper mine in Chingola worth US$400 million which will create 6,000 jobs.
"We have now penned this deal and we expect to finance more projects in the near future," Mr Kafunda said.
The United Sates-based IFDC is one of the world's largest private equity investment funds with over $100 billion in investment funds.
The corporation recently set up shop in Zambia.