Matthew Hill

Zambia, Africa’s biggest copper producer, planned to own as much as 25 percent of new mines in the country as it looked to lure investors to boost employment, Mines Minister Christopher Yaluma said yesterday.

“We don’t have any intentions to raise our ownership in most of the mining houses,” he said. The state owns 10 percent to 20 percent in most Zambian mines, and has a 35 percent stake in Maamba Collieries, the nation’s largest coal mine.

Companies including Canada’s First Quantum Minerals, the UK’s Vedanta Resources and Barrick Gold, the biggest producer of the precious metal, own mines in the country.

The government would announce a deal where it received 20 percent to 25 percent ownership of an exploration project next week, Yaluma said, declining to identify the company, as talks were continuing. Zambia holds stakes in mines through ZCCM Investment Holdings.

The government wanted to create an “enabling environment” for mining investment to make more jobs available in a country with a 14 percent unemployment rate. “We value (investors). We need them in our country,” said Yaluma, who replaced Wylbur Simuusa as mines minister in March.

He said Zambia no longer wanted 35 percent ownership of local mines, as Simuusa last year announced it did. Lusaka, which doubled royalties for copper producers to 6 percent in November last year, would leave the tax regime unchanged “for a while”, Yaluma said. – Bloomberg