Roundup: Zambia fires chief of state mining investment arm, welcomes mining firms not cutting investment

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, February 3, 2019
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LUSAKA, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government on Friday dismissed the head of a state mining investment agency who opposed the country's new mine tax regime, while commending mining firms for rescinding their plans to cut investment.

Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Richard Musukwa confirmed to reporters during a press briefing that Pius Kasolo, chief executive officer of the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines-Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH), has been relieved of his duties by the board.

The minister did not give a reason. He said he could not reveal all the details regarding the dismissal, but noted that the agency will issue a comprehensive statement on the matter.

Kasolo said this week that the ZCCM-IH was opposed to the new tax regime that would entail a tax increase on the country's copper producers, as the measures would have a negative impact on the agency and investment in the mining sector.

He urged the government to quickly resolve the tax impasse with mining firms to avoid production and investment declines in Africa's second largest copper producer.

Musukwa said discussions held between the government and mining firms have been fruitful, and that the mining firms are rescinding their earlier plans.

The Zambian government last year announced that mining royalties would rise by 1.5 percentage points from Jan. 1, and also introduced a new 10 percent tax when the price of copper exceeds 7,500 U.S. dollars per ton.

Mining firms have warned recently they would cut about 500 million dollars in capital spending over the next three years in Zambia if the government went ahead and implemented the new tax regime, a move that would have resulted in the unemployment of 21,000 miners.

Musukwa said the government was happy with the mining firms' decision to drop their plans, adding that the introduction of the new tax regime was not meant to stifle mining operations but to grow the economy.

He said mining is a pivotal sector in the Zambian economy and that the government is committed to attracting more investment in the sector.

The government, he said, intends to use the forthcoming Mining Conference in South Africa, which runs from Feb. 4 to 7, to attract more investment in the mining industry. Enditem

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