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By Shapi Shacinda

LUSAKA, Feb 29 (Reuters) – Zambia has asked foreign mining companies for alternative proposals following their criticism of planned tax changes, officials said on Friday.

“As a committee, we believe the government has done its research worldwide on which they are basing their proposal,” Godrey Beene, chairman of a Zambian parliamentary committee dealing with mining issues, told the state media.

“We have therefore given mining companies time to go and prepare a counter proposal which they should submit to us any time this week.”

He did not indicate if the proposed rates by the government would be cut.

The head of the Chamber of Mines of Zambia, Frederick Bantubonse, said foreign miners would pay more than the stated 47 percent in effective mining taxes when the new regime comes into force from April, compared to 31.7 percent now.

The government has proposed a windfall profit tax at a minimum of 25 percent and an increase in mineral royalty to 3.0 percent from 0.6 percent.

It also plans a variable profit tax at 15 percent on taxable income above eight percent and to raise corporate tax to 30 percent from 25 percent.

Bantubonse said the mining firms had studied the proposed tax increases and found they would be higher than 47 percent and detrimental to their operations and future investments.

“(Mining) companies have scrutinized … new mining tax proposals for their own operations and in every case have found that the effective tax rate will be higher than (the) calculated 47 percent,” he said in a statement.

The government had not called mining firms for a meeting to discuss the tax rates, despite numerous promises.

“To date, no such discussions or consultations have taken place. All (mining firms) with development agreements are willing to discuss and renegotiate the terms and conditions of their agreements,” Bantubonse said.

Zambia’s biggest copper producer is Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources (VED.L: Quote, Profile, Research).

Others are Mopani Copper Mines, a venture of Swiss firm Glencore International AG [GLEN.UL], First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) and Chibuluma Mine, a unit of Metorex (MTXJ.J: Quote, Profile, Research). Australia’s Equinox Minerals (EQN.AX: Quote, Profile, Research) owns Lumwana Mining Plc. (Reporting By Shapi Shacinda; editing by Michael Roddy)

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