The Zambia Chamber of Mines welcomes the changes to the new 2015 Mines and Minerals Development (Amendment) Act which was passed by parliament last Friday.
The Chamber maintains its position that the question of having an equitable fiscal regime that promotes the competitiveness of Zambia’s mining sector is not a zero sum choice between Government on the one hand and the mining industry on the other. Rather, it is one of making appropriate and well thought out choices that will result in a vibrant and competitive Zambian economy that promotes overall growth in the long term for Zambia. Given the pivotal importance of the mining industry in promoting long term diversified economic growth, the mining industry supports the forward thinking policy shift by Government, which will no doubt bear fruit in time to come.
We also note that the Government’s decision marks a significant shift in outlook towards the sector, and it can only be of benefit to the industry and the economy in the longer term.
However, given the intense competition we face as a country from other mining jurisdictions in the world, more needs to be done to ensure long-term competitiveness and renewed investment in the mining sector, which is key to securing growth. We are sure that if the country maintains the same momentum as exhibited by the outlook that resulted in the most recent change to the fiscal regime, this should be achievable in the next few years.
We believe the prevailing low price environment continues to present significant challenges for the mining sector over the short to medium term.
The gesture by the Government is a good lifeline that will provide much needed relief. The simplicity, stability, predictability, and ultimately the attractiveness of Zambia’s minerals fiscal policy environment and taxation regime, is vital to providing the assurances these investments require, especially given that copper mining in Zambia is a high cost business.
For the mining industry, this is critical: the instruments used within a taxation regime, and the rates at which taxes are set, together establish the incentives and disincentives a mining company faces in deciding whether and how much to invest, how many workers to employ, and what ore to extract – which in turn can affect the life-span of the mine.
If Zambia is to attract this needed investment its mining taxation levels, particularly Mineral Royalty Tax, must at the very least lie within global norms. Given Zambia’s specific production conditions, many would argue that an even bolder approach is necessary.
Since 2000, on the back of rising copper demand from China, the Zambian copper mining industry has led the nation’s development, spurring GDP growth and helping to achieve annual growth rates of 7% to 10%. The industry has ploughed more than US$14 billion into new mining ventures and trebled the country’s annual mining output to around 800 000 tonnes. This mining growth has been key in taking government tax revenue from less than half a billion Kwacha in 2000 to a peak of K8 billion ten years later.
“We are the basket which holds all the proverbial eggs. Working together we have to create a high-growth, diversified economy which spreads risk and opportunities across the economy creates more jobs and widens the tax base,” said Mr Nathan Chishimba, President of the Zambia Chamber of Mines.
“As we are seeing in the current crisis, Zambia should not be relying only on mining for its future,”Mr Chishimba said.
We commend the government for this new spirit of dialogue and cooperation, and we look forward to continuing to work together to solve these and future challenges.