Will the recent 20% rise in the Kariba Lake positively impact power supplies and thus, the mining sector?
Any increase in water levels in Zambia’s water bodies is a good development for Zambia, as it will impact the current contingency levels taken by ZESCO to import more expensive power. This will also ease pressure brought about by recent power consumption abatement measures imposed on the mining industry.
What are the main challenges facing the mining industry at present and how are you overcoming them?
The key challenge facing the Zambian mining industry at present is the availability and pricing of power. On availability of power, they important challenge is that power demand in Zambia is growing faster than existing supply. It is important that new generating capacity is brought on stream as quickly as possible. It is encouraging that there are new large scale generation projects under development at Kafue Gorge Lower, and discussions are underway to secure financing for the Batoka Gorge hydro project. On pricing, the industry is determined to work with the government to ensure a transparent, credible and sustainable framework for pricing of power. The industry looks forward to participating in the recently launched Cost of Service Study by the Energy Regulation Board, and our initial contacts on this initiative so far have been promising. In recent years, government has made a lot of changes to the fiscal regimes (no less than 8 times!). This has been very destabilizing for mining operations, but our current engagement with the government leaves us a little more confident that we now have some assurance of a more stable fiscal regime going forward. We will work in a determined manner with government to ensure this stability is sustained.
What do you think the key outcomes of the ZIMEC Conference should be?
ZIMEC 2017 should provide a platform to galvanise practical debate around developing and sustaining a favourable investment climate for mining, and resolving key issues around availability and optimal pricing of power in the country going forward. This debate should focus on key practical issues in an objective and probing manner, to ensure credible outcomes for the country.