Mining gurus meet in Lusaka
Some 400 officials from leading mining companies around the world have convened in Lusaka for the second Zambia Mining and Energy Conference (ZIMEC) and Exhibition.
Zambia is Africa’s largest copper producer and its economic development largely depends on the mining industry, which is the country’s leading employer after Government.
The country has been making steady growth in this sector, raising copper production from about 250,000 metric tonnes to over 760,000 metric tonnes in the post-privatisation era.
This is thanks to the conducive investment environment Government has created in the sector in the last two decades. The country’s think-tanks in the sector last year came up with a novel initiative to market Zambia as the premier investment destination.
They came up with a forum appropriately called Zambia International Mining and Energy Conference and Exhibition (ZIMEC) which was a huge success when it took off last year.
Attended by about 400 delegates, the conference acted as a platform to exchange ideas and discuss pertinent issues of the country’s economic and social development.
This year’s conference, which starts today at New Government Complex, seeks to build on the massive success of the inaugural meeting.
Organising committee chairman Gilbert Temba reflects on the 2011 edition: “The first edition of ZIMEC in 2011 attracted 44 speakers, 85 exhibitors and over 600 participants from 34 different countries. The event attracted the interest and attendance of key decision-makers from both public and private sectors, and provided insights into investment opportunities in the mining and energy sectors in Zambia, whose political and economic stability stood out as one of the foremost attractions for long term investments.”
Mr Temba says ZIMEC has positioned itself as the ‘must-attend mining and energy event’ in Zambia, providing key insight into the legislative, business and technical issues.
The conference, he says, offers an ideal setting to gain in-depth knowledge, meet captains of the industry and expand networks of prospective partners.
This year’s event is held under the theme: ‘Utilising Zambia’s resources as the engine for sustainable development and economic integration.’
“ZIMEC 2012 will consist of three days of plenary sessions, technical seminars, exhibitions and workshops, the event will offer unparalleled learning and networking opportunities, a unique platform for business development and commercial exposure,” he says.
Among the participants, Mr Temba says, will be international investors, mining and energy experts, directors of financial institutions, Zambian decision-makers, development partners and other key actors in the mining, petroleum and energy industries.
But what are the benefits of attending this meeting? Mr Temba explains:
• Network with key decision-makers from the industry and government
• Learn from focused knowledgeable subject matter experts and leading players
• Gain strategic, operational and technical insight
• Determine your approach to implement necessary CSR and safety standards
• Hear about the latest technological solutions that could assist in achieving efficiency and innovation objectives
• Benchmark with industry stake holders
• Find out what the Zambian government is doing to encourage investments
To underscore the importance of the meeting, Mr Temba said the conference will officially be opened by Vice-President Guy Scott while Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma is expected to give a keynote speech.
But why hold the conference now?
“Zambia has seen a rebirth of the mining industry since the sector moved to private hands,” Mr Temba said and added: “This is the time we believe that it works for the private sector to invest in mining in Zambia.”
Saying that Government has no plans now or in the near-future to own the mines again, Mr Temba said it is imperative for the private sector to rise to the challenge because it has enough human skill and financial resources to invest in the sector.
He is full of praises for the mining industry because of the immense contribution it makes to national development. He says mines’ contribution to the national treasury through various forms of taxation is unequalled.
“I would like someone to show me which industry pays more, directly or indirectly, to Government in terms of taxes. Zero. The mining industry’s contribution to the economy is phenomenal,” he said.
Not only that, Mr Temba said the mines are collectively the biggest employers in Zambia after Government, beating sectors such as agriculture and tourism. Further, Mr Temba said mining activities give rise to infrastructure development, giving an example of most towns on the Copperbelt that have been built as a result of mines.
“Take Kitwe, for instance, what came first between Nkana Mine and Kitwe town? It is obviously the mine which gave rise to the town. None of the towns on the Copperbelt would have been there if there were no mines,” he said.
He said even towns such as Kabwe have infrastructure despite mining activities having decreased over the years.
“Mining, therefore, does not leave holes, it leaves infrastructure,” he explained, adding that other peripheral industries come up as a result of mines.
Even for a town such as Johannesburg, which has become an international metropolis, it developed because of the gold mines. Though there are no mining activities anymore, the town has continued growing and developing because of other industries that came up because of the mines and are now thriving.
He says the conference will demonstrate that mining provides the best economic development for Zambia.
On skills development, Mr Temba said mines have trained a good cadre of Zambians who are contributing to national development in various sectors of the economy.
“I am a good example of a mining product. I am an engineer trained by the mines and I believe I am a useful citizen,” Mr Temba said.
Among the key speakers at the conference will be all the big guns in the industry and financial sectors, such as the likes of Mopani Copper Mines chief executive officer Daniel Callow, Konkola Copper Mines chief executive officer Jeyakumar Janakaraj, and Economics Association of Zambia vice-president Robert Liebenthal, among others.