31 May 2013

Zambia: Sata Challenges Mining Companies

PRESIDENT Michael Sata has asked mining companies in Zambia to ensure their investments translate into improved welfare of Zambians.

Mr Sata said mining companies should be compliant with all the laws of the country and undertake meaningful corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities that would contribute to the improvement of the lives of people in communities they operated.

He said this in a speech read for him by Vice-President Guy Scott at the official opening of the 56th Copperbelt Mining, Agricultural and Commercial Show (CMACS) in Kitwe yesterday.

He said Government efforts alone would not suffice to ensure continued contribution of the mining sector to development and prosperity, hence the need for the cooperation of all players, particularly mining firms.

"I wish, therefore, to urge all mining houses to work with Government in ensuring that these mineral resources being exploited benefit the people to whom they belong," he said.

In that regard, he expected mining companies to be compliant with all the laws of the country and to undertake meaningful CSR activities that would better the lives of people.

This, he said, would enhance the investment climate because communities would be able to see the benefits of the exploitation of their resources.

Mr Sata was happy with this year's show theme: 'Mining and Agriculture for Continued Development and Prosperity', which he said was the main agenda of Government as it resonated well with the Patriotic Front (PF) manifesto.

He said mining had, since independence, been the engine of Zambia's economic growth, providing the much needed foreign exchange earnings, creating employment and stimulating growth in other sectors of the economy.

He said the agricultural sector accounted for about 18 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and provided livelihood to more than 50 per cent of the population with the sector being the main source of income and employment for women.

"Against this background, my Government is committed to ensure that these two sectors continue to contribute to the development of this country and prosperity of the people," Mr Sata said.

He reiterated Government's commitment to creating a conducive investment environment for mining to flourish where both the investor and the owners of the mineral resources were assured of a fair return from the exploitation of the mineral resources.

"In this regard, the Mines and Minerals Act Number 7 of 2008 is being reviewed and the new one expected to be in place before the end of the year.

He said the aim of the statute was not only to have a law that was in line with the international best practices but also responsive to the needs of the people.

He was aware the mining industry could not grow to the extent of making significant contributions to the economic development if the necessary infrastructure was not in place.

Mr Sata said this was the reason Government was working on addressing the problem of electricity energy through ZESCO which was undertaking a number of projects to increase power generation capacity by 1,500 megawatts by 2015.

In the transport sector, he said Government was working on improving the road network and the current railway network to help reduce the cost of doing business.

He said it was Government's resolve to develop further the agricultural industry and other sectors of the economy, saying this was the reason Government had taken measures to reform the sector.

He, however, assured the agricultural sector of continued subsidies on fertiliser, which he said would benefit 900, 000 farmers during the next farming season, which would also see farmers and Government contributing equally towards the cost of fertiliser inputs.

"Further, I want to emphasise that the subsidy on seed will continue. Each beneficiary farmer will receive 10 kilogrammes of seed free of charge," he said.

With regard to livestock, Mr Sata said Government was concerned that the great potential for the sector had largely remained untapped despite the availability of huge grazing land and plenty water resources.

Earlier, Show Society chairperson Bill Osborn observed that mining and agriculture had continued to, not only, provide employment to the majority Zambians, but also getting the larger populace out of poverty.

Mr Osborn called for clear-cut policies for the mining and the agricultural sectors to co-exist and support each other without one negatively affecting the other.

He was happy that this year's show had grown in size and stature stressing that this had reflected Zambia's continued economic growth.

"We do have more exhibitors this year and a good number of new exhibitors from various sectors of the economy," he said.

Meanwhile, Sandvik Mining Company emerged the overall stand winners of this year's CMACS.

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