INTERVIEWER: What is ZIMEC?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: Well, before I get into the actual details of ZIMEC, I am here to represent the Zambia Chamber of Mines, which is an association of mining companies and we believe we are trying to reshape this country and to make it responsive to the needs of the industry, to make sure that we contribute in a sustainable way. Now ZIMEC is Zambia International Mining and Energy Conference, which has been happening in the last six years and this conference just brings together industry experts in the energy, mining sector and also the financial sector to make sure that they connect, share ideas and shape the economy of this country and this year, we’re looking forward to… 108 delegates, 30 exhibitors, 35 speakers and 7 sponsors. These are the major sponsors playing a very pivotal role in the economy and this conference aims to highlight some of the major key points which include enabling a legal environment to encourage sustainable mining investment, both in the mining industry and also the energy sector and it will also analyse the issue of hydro-power…. alternative sources of energy such as renewable energy and we aim to create obviously, a long-term sustainability of the mining sector, developing our country’s mining vision and mainstreaming mineral resources and also we’re looking at ways of financing these projects that are…
INTERVIEWER: What role is the Chamber of Mines playing?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: As the Chamber of Mines, we realise the importance of partnerships because we believe this country can only move forward when we partner with our major stakeholders and obviously one of the biggest stakeholders is the Zambian government, then the people and then we’ve got the investors and this country needs the investment. You might realise the fact that for privatization, the mining industry has put in about $15 billion. This is a private sector and this one has seen copper production triple and the major production is coming from North-western province which at some time was very backward in terms of development but right now, I think this province is contributing a lot to the treasury and this new investment has come in because we need to ‘knock at the door’ of the investor to pop up the greenfield projects.
INTERVIEWER: When you talk about investors, are you talking about both local and international? Because I think there’s a tendency in this country; every time we talk about investors, we are thinking about foreigners coming in to pump in money.
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: That’s why I’m talking about both investments; we’ve got local investors who have played a very key role in the Zambian mining sector. Not only they investing in the mining sector, there are other key industries which have benefited from this kind of investment. When you go to….. for example, we’ve got Zambians running big hotels; a good example is … hotel. We’ve got a lady who’s running that and that investment has been made possible because of the proceeds and the support that they’re getting from the mining sector.
INTERVIEWER: Why is the ZIMEC event so important for the mining sector?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: We believe ZIMEC seeks to further the discussion and execution of the issue of diversification. Diversification, first of all, within the mining sector itself because we’ve been mining copper for quite some time now but we believe other minerals can play a very big role as well, in terms of contributing to the treasury. We need to look at the issue of gemstones, we need to look at the issue of …. minerals such as sand, such as clay, such as stones that we use to decorate our houses that Zambians are building and then, we also need to look at diversifying from the actual mining sector to areas such as tourism, agriculture and also, the energy sector. And when I come to the issue of diversifying within the energy sector, I think 90% of electricity in Zambia is generated using hydro but I think we can do better by looking at other alternative sources of generating this power and I think the government has done so well in terms of attracting this investment and they’re trying by all means to level the playing field for new entrants so that we’ve got a mixed generation of power.
INTERVIEWER: What key opportunities are in the Zambian mining industry and why does mining investment matter, Mr Ng’andwe?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: Well, we believe that copper production is rising and we need to make it sustainable with new investment. I’ll give you an example of Kalumbila mining of western province. I think Kalumbila mine came on board some time back when the investment …. Was quite favourable and I think the fruit of that investment is being seen now. They’ve added numbers to the production, they’ve added numbers to employment creation and they’re also adding numbers to local opportunities by creation of the …. Facility economic zones and giving opportunities to local suppliers.
INTERVIEWER: This being a talk of … that Zambia needs to diversify from mining to agriculture, I ask this question because I get the sense and the feeling that this might maybe, say there’s an investor who’s interested in coming Zambia, when they hear us talk more about going into agriculture, they might think twice about coming to invest in mining. What’s your take on it?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: I think this country offers both opportunities. We’ve got very big players in both the agricultural sector in the world and also the mining sector. The issue of mining in Zambia is that we need to create more opportunities for exploration. We’ve got so many areas which are untapped in terms of exploration in this country and we still have some more mines coming up, there’s ….. I’ll just come to the issue in terms of resources that we have as a country; I think we still have opportunities. The U.S geological survey estimates that Zambia still has potential for known copper reserves of some 20 million tonnes lying through the copper belt and central province and if we look at the current price of copper and we do our calculation, this is about $95 billion.
INTERVIEWER: That’s a lot of money.
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: Quite a lot of money but we still need an enabling environment in terms of encouraging explorations in the industry and we need new entrants so the bottom line is we need investment both in the mining sector exploration and also other sectors of the economy.
INTERVIEWER: How can stakeholders work together to increase access to energy in Zambia?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: Well, we believe the issue is first of all, transparency and working together and accountability is very pivotal and as the Chamber of Mines, because of the tension that existed between the industry and other stakeholders and the issues of mistrust, we’ve taken steps to make sure that we open up to this country and open up to other stakeholders. We believe in the issue of dialogue and sustainability and the issue of transparency and accountability is very key for us, that’s why we’re supporting initiatives such as the Zambia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, which is ZEITI and also the ….in support projects. If these projects are realised, I think we as stakeholders will contribute to the much needed resources for this country.
INTERVIEWER: Mr Ng’andwe, what challenges need to be addressed to enable the mining sector drive economic development?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: The Zambian government has helped to level the playing field, in terms of .. we had challenges in the … Of ….tax and also the VAT and … Has been dismantling the … That was what the mining companies through various claims that have been put forward and also ….tax. At one point, … Tax was paid at 20%. Right now it is based on the prevailing copper price on the international market, that is a ….scale and I think we’re moving on a positive note.
INTERVIEWER: What are the future plans for increasing social and economic development via the natural resources industry in Zambia?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: The issue of local content has been a thorn in the ‘flesh’ of the mining industry because there have been some arguments that in terms of procurement, the mining industry has not been doing much but you also need to understand that our manufacturing belt isn’t that big to support the requirements of the mining industry and what really happens is that you find that sometimes when you give contracts to our local suppliers, the first thing that they do is to get on a plane and go to another country and import the requirements of the industry. But you know, the money doesn’t stay; we need to support the local manufacturing industry and various members of the Chamber of Mines have taken up initiative to make sure that they support the local suppliers. When you go to north-western province, you’ll find out that there are various programs being undertaken in terms of capacity-building, supply chain, efficiency and also management of the funds; the capital, but we have a problem with, sometimes, our local suppliers that…. Into the procedures in the mining industry but apart from that, what we have done is also to support communities where we’re operating by coming up with initiatives such as cooking oil. When you go to, for example, Muana, there’s a very good initiative going on called …. I think they’re making cooking oil, which I understand that they’ve submitted it to the Zambia Bureau of Standards for certification and if this cooking oil is certified, I think we’ll see it in our local chain stores. So I think these are some of the initiatives that we need to support and make sure that we contribute to the communities where we’re operating.
INTERVIEWER: Mr Ng’andwe, when you talk about some of the local suppliers not adhering to certain requirements, what are you doing as the Chamber of Mines to make sure that they appreciate the importance of adhering to these set requirements?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: What we’ve done is, we’ve come up with initiatives to partner with the mining association of suppliers and we have also engaged the World Bank through the local content initiative and we’re also looking at ways of engaging African Development Bank. I think in the next month they’ll be launching a draft report of the research that they do and make recommendations both to the industry and also the Zambian government on how we can enhance the participation of the local companies in the supply of the mines.
INTERVIEWER: How can industry players work with the Chamber of Mines to increase productivity and develop local skills?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: Mining is of the highest risked industries in the world. I think men and women who work for us in the industry work in very dangerous conditions if safety is not adhered to and we need to make sure that we need highly qualified workforce and also we need high standards of safety to be followed in the industry, not only to be followed by the miner but also, companies need to make sure that they implement appropriate and relevant safety procedures for the miners to contribute to the productivity of the industry.
INTERVIEWER: The 7th Zambia International Mining and Energy Conference exhibition will be held on the 22nd – 23rd of June, 2017 in Lusaka at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, under the theme ‘Mining and Energy Development in Zambia; Increasing Economic Activities’. What is your interpretation of the theme as Zambia Chamber of Mines?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: The interpretation of the theme is that basically we need to re-emphasize that this economy needs to diversify and attract the much needed investment. As …. Diversification in the energy sector but we also need policy reforms in the energy sector so that we contribute efficiently to the requirements of the Zambian people in the most cost-efficient and affordable way.
INTERVIEWER: I know that last year this event was held. Is there anything unique this year that we didn’t see last year that we’ll obtain on the 22nd and 23rd of June at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, what should people look out for?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: People should look out for a mix of new entrants in the exhibition this year and our emphasis is also on local exhibitors. Last year the event was held at the New Government Complex but this year we’ve moved it to Mulungushi International Complex, to give it a new look and give it enough space for people to come and this event is basically free to the public, other stakeholders and also professionals, so I think we promise to give a mix of exhibitors and also, we’ve got a new web of speakers to make sure that they provide direction to thinking, in terms of the initiatives that have been proposed for this conference.
INTERVIEWER: Among the speakers, are they all locally based or there are some that have come from outside the country?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: We’ve got a mix of speakers. We’ve got captains of the mining industry, we’ve got energy experts, both local and international and I believe CEC will be part of this. ZESCO will be part of the speakers for the conference and then we’ve got international exhibitors and speakers as well. We’ve got ENEL Energy, which is a leading energy producer and supplier in Italy, which will take part in the conference and we have also extended invitations to diplomats, such as American Ambassador to Zambia.
INTERVIEWER: Mr Ng’andwe, is this exhibition for everyone, for instance, I would want to attend the exhibition on both days. Am I welcome or I need to have interest in mining and energy for me to be at Mulungushi? Who are you targeting?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: We’re targeting both professionals and also, we need to learn about what happens in our mining industry in order to understand and argue on a very informed position because we have come to discover that there’s a lot of perception, especially on how the mining industry operates in this country and I think we’re moving towards bridging the gap in terms of understanding the issues in the mining industry, so you can only appreciate and have an understanding of the various processes that are undertaken when you expose yourself to such kind of …… and I think we encourage members of the public to attend and listen to experts giving various speeches.
INTERVIEWER: What do you, as Zambia Chamber of Mines, wish to see as the key outcome of the ZIMEC 2017 event?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: Well, our emphasis is…. I think from privatization to date, there’s massive investment in the industry and most of it is in greenfield projects, even though we’ve got legacy projects also on the copper belt that we’re taking over from the CCI but most of it is greenfield projects. You cannot have any new investment if there’s no exploration activity taking place so I think we need to see an interrogation during the conference, of the prospects and we need to see investors stepping up to these new prospects, because maybe the new Kalumbila might be established in …. In the near future so I think we need to make sure that we encourage this new investment into exploration, so that we discover new mines. On the energy side, we’re very much optimistic that there will be questions and answers on the reform of our energy sector because Zambia needs a reliable supply of cost efficient and competitively-priced electricity. We believe the health and wellbeing of citizens is necessary and the broader economy depends on it.
INTERVIEWER: And as we come to the end of our interaction, Mr Ng’andwe, what will be your word to all the stakeholders in the mining and energy sectors?
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: My last word will be that I think the issue of dialogue is very key and I think there’s been a lot of debate on how we should move as a country, to address the challenges that we are faced. The issue of dialogue is very key and participation of all the stakeholders before decisions are actually made.
INTERVIEWER: Mr Talent Ng’andwe, acting Chief Executive Officer of Zambia Chamber of Mines, we would like to thank you so much for your input this afternoon on this our special program. We can only wish you all the best.
Mr Talent Ng’andwe: Thank you very much. We hope to see you at the conference.