Zambia has escalated its attacks on miner Vedanta, owned by Indian mining magnate Anil Agarwal, saying the company has been involved in criminal activities, including underpaying taxes and breaking investment promises.
“Zambia is a victim and it needs support,” Minister of Mines Richard Musukwa told delegates at African Mining Indaba in Cape Town, the continent’s largest gathering of professionals from the resource extraction sector. “We deserve African and international support to make sure Vedanta pays the price,” he added.
He was referring to a bitter row with the mining company that broke out in May 2019, when the Zambia’s mining vehicle, ZCCM-IH, sought the liquidation of Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).
At the time, Zambia accused KCM, the country’s largest copper operation, of breaching the terms of its licence and owing money in unpaid taxes, charges the company has denied and is fighting through international arbitration.
Soon after seizing control of the mine, which has a productive capacity of about 100,000 tonnes of copper, Zambia said it had interested buyers, including China Nonferrous Metals Co. and Eurasian Resources Group. But it seems like the ongoing dispute between Vedanta and the country has put off bidders.
Many Zambians have developed the belief that mining should strictly be done by Zambian firms since the country is not benefitting from its minerals.
To that effect, following the discovery of gold deposits in North Western Province, ZCCM-IH has established a 100% govt owned company, ZCCM Gold Company, to oversee the mining, processing, refining and marketing of gold in Zambia.
Although copper might be fetching a staggering US$6.300/ton on the London Metal Market, with cobalt fetching a whooping US$80,000/ton, gold is in a class of its own, relatively fetching US$445.58 per gram with price per kilo averaging US$45,594.94.
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