The Government's overaching strategy on the mines remains unclear. We have had signals in the past of possible nationalisation and then contradictory statements. The latest signal is that GRZ intents to take a 25% stake in mining companies through ZCCM-IH, in an effort to "have a stronger influence in decision-making". I certainly hope we shall have more detail from Mr Mwale on this because I fail to see how they can be more influential with only 25%. The Indeni model is 50% GRZ ownership. Looking to our neighbours : the Botswana's Debswana model is 50%; Angola's diamong mining framework... is even more radical; and not to forget the Tanzanian approach to "non-performing" privated firms. I am not arguing for higher or lower stakes, just asking Mr Mwale...why 25%?
State ups mines stakes, Nkweto Mfula, Sunday Mail :
Government says it intends to increase its shareholding to 25 per cent in mining companies for it to have a stronger influence in decision-making over problems the mining industry was facing.
And Minister of Mines and Mineral Development, Maxwell Mwale, says Government has lost a lot of revenue in form of mineral royalties and pay as you earn taxes following the placing of Luanshya Copper Mine (LCM) under care and maintenance in December last year.
Responding to questions from journalists after a closed-door meeting with LCM management, Mr Mwale said Government was considering increasing shareholding in LCM and other mines to have more authority in decision-making. Government, through Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines-Investment Holding, is the minority shareholder in LCM with 15 per cent shares.
“We intend to increase our shareholding in LCM from the current 15 per cent to 25 per cent. This will apply not only to LCM but to other mines as well so that Government has influence in decision-making in the mining industry,” he said.
And addressing former union officials, Mr Mwale said there was progress in the negotiations with Enya Limited the investors in LCM on the exit procedures. “Our negotiations with Enya Limited on the exit procedures are progressing well,” he said.
He said Government has also initiated a scheme that would take care of all local creditors’ concerns and would hold a meeting with the stakeholders in April on the way forward before the interested investors takeover LCM.
He said Government was concerned about what was happening on the Copperbelt and would ensure that a solution was found soon. “What is emerging on the Copperbelt is not Government’s doing. This is happening across the globe. We are part of the global village,” he said in reference to the global economic meltdown. He said Government was mindful of the plight of people in Luanshya and could not allow the negative impact of the closure to go on for a long time.
Mr Mwale said that despite the equity markets drying up, other investors with their own resources were interested in taking over Baluba Mine. He said some investors were doing diligence studies on LCM and that data had been availed by the senior government officials’ technical committee that was set up to look into LCM’s problems.
He said that of the five interested investors, three companies - Mandini of Canada, Lions Limited of South Africa and Non-Ferrous Metals of China - have toured the mine.
Mr Mwale said the job losses on the Copperbelt knew no political face. He said people losing jobs were from various political parties and that the challenge required the government and the opposition political parties to work together.
Meanwhile, Roan member of Parliament, Chishimba Kambwili, commended Government over negations made on the dis-investment by the LCM investor. “This is the kind of leadership that we expect,” he said.
Mr Chishimba implored the would-be investor to embrace corporate social responsibility for the community. “We are not against the Chinese taking over as long as they meet our demand of paying the people according to their work and continue with the corporate social responsibility,” he said.
He said, should the Chinese be the preferred bidder, they should allow local suppliers to supply goods and services to the mine. Mr Kambwili also said that LCM lawyers have secured a court stay of execution on its 60 pieces of equipment that were seized by sheriffs on behalf of various creditors.