Dialogue, cooperation and consultation between government and the mining industry are critical in helping to alleviate the trust deficit between the two and to grow Zambia’s production, Mines Minister Christopher has said.

He made his remarks in an exclusive interview with Mining for Zambia during the annual Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa, from 5-8 February.

“We could grow our annual production to 1 and even 2 million tonnes if we engage in dialogue, and end the distrust that is hampering our performance. We must all focus on the same goal, which is to up production.”

The common goal all must focus on is increased production

Yaluma emphasised the importance of a stable mining policy that is arrived at in a spirit of cooperation, dialogue and consultation; this was a key element of the trust-building process,

“You must start talking, doing things transparently. Embrace the industry, and get their input,” he said. “Don’t come and surprise them the following morning and say we have changed this. Because that will impact their long-term projections. But when there is trust and they believe you, they can start to plan and grow their business, which in turn will grow our [tax] proceeds.”

Yaluma said that there are mining reforms around local content “coming up”, towards May 2018, and that they would be subject to a full consultative process. The mining industry would be given multiple opportunities to comment and provide input. “We want to be very open now – it’s an open game.”

On the general issue of public perception of the role and contribution of the mining industry in economic development, Yaluma conceded that government could perhaps do more to explain this. He said there was a perception among certain people that the mines were not here for the long term, and would eventually close and “abandon” Zambia.

“That is not the case,” Yaluma said, and spoke of long-term expansion plans at mines such as Konkola Copper Mines, Mopani, and First Quantum Minerals’ Sentinel and Kansanshi Mines – all of which would increase their respective mine lives for 30 to 50 years. “We just need to share that information so that [people] are more comfortable.”

 Picture credit: Q FM Zambia

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