Following earlier warnings that the state would play a larger role in the mining sector, today the ruling Patriotic Front government announced their intention to revoke mining licenses from non-performing companies, prompting renewed fears of resource nationalism.
Deputy Minister of Mines Richard Musukwa has said that the government has already issued notices to affected mining license owners. The Zambian government aims to “weed out” companies holding licenses but who are failing to begin production, thereby denying jobs to Zambian workers.
He says only sound companies will be given licenses to ensure they start mining and create more employment.
The Deputy Minister was speaking during the Ubuilile Traditional Ceremony of the Bwile people of Senior Chief Puta of Chienge District of Luapula province.
Mr Musukwa has appealed to traditional leaders to assist in identifying small scale miners who have the capacity to engage in meaningful business and could create employment opportunities for locals.
He has also observed that Luapula Province is endowed with copper and base metals which should be exploited to the benefit of the people.
Despite increased concern over political risk, and a credit downgrade from Fitch Ratings, recently the Canadian mining group First Quantum announced plans to invest $4 billion in two mines in Zambia – however, the promise of investment also came with a warning to the government to play by the rules.