Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema is set to deliver a keynote address at Investing in African Mining Indaba 2024, demonstrating his unwavering dedication to revitalising his country’s mining sector and delivering jobs and economic growth to the people of Zambia.
This will be Hichilema’s second appearance at Mining Indaba as President, having delivered a keynote address in May 2022, shortly after his landslide election victory in 2021.
Since this historic election, President Hichilema has made quick progress towards achieving his objectives, implementing several measures to revitalise the mining sector in Zambia. Already the seventh largest copper producer in the world, Hichilema has set out to advance Zambia’s ranking with an ambitious goal of expanding copper production from 800,000 tonnes per year currently to around 3 million tonnes of copper by 2030.
Under Hichilema’s leadership, the government of Zambia has reviewed the mining tax framework, ensuring a stable and competitive taxation system while eliminating double taxation. Furthermore, President Hichilema has personally spearheaded efforts to attract investment along the mining value chain, exemplified by the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Democratic Republic of Congo to build a regional value chain for electric vehicle batteries. These initiatives have already yielded positive results, with major mining groups reinvesting in Zambia and the country’s copper opportunities gaining renewed interest from global players.
During his keynote at Mining Indaba, the President is expected to delve into the future of mining in Zambia, outlining his plans to expand copper production and position the country as a major player in the global mining industry. He will also address efforts for Zambian mining to expand into a wider array of critical minerals including cobalt, nickel and manganese. Furthermore, Hichilema’s speech will explore the potential for collaboration between the government, industry stakeholders, and investors, highlighting the need for partnerships to drive innovation and maximise the sector’s socio-economic benefits.
Just two years into Hichilema’s presidency, there have already been numerous positive developments in Zambia’s mining industry. Since 2019, Barrick’s Lumwana mine has contributed nearly US$3 billion in taxes, royalties, and local employment. In October 2023, the company made clear its support for the Zambian economy by announcing it will invest almost $2 billion to expand Lumwana and increase its annual production to an estimated 240,000 tonnes of copper. This will elevate a once unprofitable operation into one of the world’s foremost copper production facilities.
Similarly, a $100 million investment by First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has successfully brought the Enterprise Nickel Mine – Africa’s largest nickel producer – online. Meanwhile, FQM’s $1.25 billion expansion to its Kanshansi Copper Mine – announced at the Investing in African Mining Indaba 2022 – is expected to create nearly 2,000 jobs in Zambia.
Hichilema’s visionary and steadfast leadership has also encouraged new players to make their mark in Zambia. California-based Kobold Metals, which is backed by tech titans including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, is working to start producing copper and cobalt at its project in Zambia. The company has so far invested $150 million to accelerate its search for high-quality metal deposits located in the famous Copperbelt.
Other newcomers include Abu Dhabi’s International Resources, who in December 2023 announced a $1.1 billion investment in Mopani Copper Mines, funding the mine’s expansion plan and increasing copper production to 200,000 tons in the next three years.
President Hichilema’s leadership has galvanised not just the mining industry but also related industries that provide much needed infrastructure and support to the extractives sector. On 26 October, his government signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States and European Union to develop the Lobito Corridor and build a new Zambia-Lobito rail line. This includes a $250 million investment by the United States and will deliver an enormous boost to intra-regional trade, as well as stimulating growth and job creation within Zambia.
Mining Indaba 2024’s theme is ‘Embracing the power of positive disruption: A bold new future for African Mining’. Zambia’s re-emergence as a top investment destination of choice for mining investors demonstrates that positive disruption can deliver positive results and Mining Indaba is excited to provide opportunities to understand the country’s successes and processes for achieving this.
Source: Mining Weekly