Lusaka - Zambia plans to double the contribution of the mining sector to its gross domestic product (GDP) to 20% to enable the country get more benefits from its main natural resource, Mines Minister Wylbur Simuusa said on Tuesday.
Copper mining is Zambia’s economic lifeblood and a key employer in the southern African country of 13 million people.
Copper is the country’s main export and according to government data from the central statistical office, Switzerland imports the bulk of the country’s copper followed by China.
At a meeting called to review the law governing mining, Simuusa said the sector currently contributes between 9% and 10% to GDP.
“If we can double what we are getting, then we can say we have at least done something,” Simuusa said without giving a timeframe.
He said the government would like state-owned Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings, which currently represents the state in mining ventures via equity stakes, to actively participate in the industry by running and owning some mines.
The government would also revamp small-scale mining for it to contribute more to the economy, and would change mining laws to give the government a bigger supervisory role, he said.
“We are also diversifying into less traditional mining areas instead of just concentrating on copper,” Simuusa said.
Zambia is Africa’s top copper producer.
Foreign mining firms in Zambia include Brazil’s Vale, Canada’s First Quantum Minerals and Barrick Gold and London-listed Vedanta Resources and commodity giant Glencore.
Studies by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund had shown that Zambia was not getting the due benefits from mining, he said.
“In terms of taxation, mining is contributing only 3% against exports of 60%-70%, and we are saying that should be changed,” Simuusa said.
The review of the law would be done in consultation with investors to ensure a “win-win situation” for the benefit of the industry, he said.