Zambian mining gets huge investment boost under Hichilema — $7bn in two years
Investment in Zambian mining has surged since Hakainde Hichilema took over as president in 2021 from Edgar Lungu, who had soured relations with foreign mining companies.
Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema told the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Monday that foreign mining houses had invested almost $7-billion into several mining projects in Zambia over the past two years. These comprised new and expanded enterprises.
Hichilema noted that when he had addressed the indaba for the first time in 2022, shortly after taking office, he had made the case that “now is the time” to invest in Zambian mining.
“Since then a number of investments have been made and are already bearing fruit,” he said in a video address on the first day of the event, which was also addressed in person by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
- Enterprise Nickel Mine, Africa’s largest nickel producer, has come online following a $100-million investment from first quantum minerals (FQM);
- First Quantum Minerals is also making strong progress with the s3 expansion of the Kansanshi mine and smelter, investing more than $1-billion and boosting downstream beneficiation;
- Moxico Resources started production at its Mimbula mining project in March 2023, producing 6,000 tonnes of copper in the first nine months of operations;
- Kobold Metals, which uses pioneering artificial intelligence technology, has made significant progress in defining the ore body at its Mingomba project, following a$150-million investment in 2022;
- Barrick Gold Corporation has doubled down on its commitment with a$2-billion investment to expand its Lumwana mine into a “super-pit” capable of producing 240,000 tonnes of copper per year when it comes online in 2028;
- The China Nonferrous Mining Corporation has pledged a $1.3-billion investment over the next five years for its various operations in Zambia, including $600-million for the reopening of shaft 28 at the Luanshya copper mines, on the copper belt; and
- International Resources Holding and Vedanta Resources have invested a combined $2.3-billion into Mopani Mine and Konkola Copper Mines, helping Zambia to “make substantial progress in resolving the legacy issues”, Hichilema said, referring to the paralysing disputes which the foreign investors in these two “national assets” had had with Lungu.
“This year, Zambia comes to you with a new message: ‘Invest with confidence and power the future’,” Hichilema said.
“We reiterate our government’s commitment to making Zambia a reliable investment partner of choice on the African continent.
“Zambia has a stable and predictable mining, legal, regulatory and fiscal regime; as we committed to you during the 2022 mining indaba.”
Hichilema said his government had also made significant efforts to support the gemstone sector and, in particular, emeralds. Zambia had become the world’s largest producer of this precious stone.
He acknowledged the investments of companies such as Gemfields in a joint venture with the Zambian government.
Hichilema said his government was dedicated to positioning Zambia’s mining sector for future growth.
The government was undertaking a nationwide geological mapping exercise to provide accurate geodata for exploring new mineral resources and deposits.
It was encouraging diversification through this mineral exploration exercise so as to confirm resources in rare earths, lithium, gold, manganese, graphite, sugilite and diamonds.
Zambia was also working with local and international partners to boost the country’s energy and transport infrastructure to support its “bold mining ambitions”.
These projects included:
- The $2.2-billion Kafue Gorge lower power station;
- The UK-Zambia green growth compact, opening up $3-billion in private-sector and government funding for renewable energy projects across Zambia;
- The Copperbelt Energy Company $200-million green bond issued, to finance solar, wind and other renewable energy projects;
- Opening up the energy market to private-sector players through the open-access regime including facilitating off-taker guarantee financing, allowing mining companies to finance captive power to fuel their expansion projects; and
- Lining up infrastructure projects such as the Zambia-Lobito rail line and upgrading the Tazara railway line to provide a smoother route to markets for mining operations.
“We recognise that we stand on the verge of a global energy transition – the greatest, in fact, since the Industrial Revolution,” Hichilema said.
“Unlike the industrial revolution of past centuries, this revolution will make the world a cleaner, greener place to work in, to do business in, to live in.
“By 2040, an additional nine million tons of copper will be required each year to keep pace with the global demand. As the home of some of the world’s largest and highest-quality copper deposits, Zambia recognises our crucial role in meeting this demand.
“We call for investment partnerships to power this new, green African future, helping the world to meet its climate targets and usher in a new era of industrialisation for Africa and the global community.”
Hichilema said Zambia was committed to expanding mining value chains within Zambia and the region.
He cited, for instance, Zambia’s memorandum of understanding with the Democratic Republic of Congo and the US to develop an integrated value chain for the production of electric vehicle batteries in both countries.
Hichilema called on technology firms to carry out geological mapping, financiers to fund ambitious projects and energy companies to boost infrastructure in Zambia. DM