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By Geoffrey Kapembwa

March 26 (Bloomberg) — Zambia‘s parliament approved an amendment to the Mines and Minerals Act that will increase taxes and abolish existing agreements between the government and mining companies, the Zambian Chamber of Mines said.

The bill, which will be signed into law by President Mwanawasa on April 1, will lift royalties on sales fivefold to 3 percent and increase corporate income tax to 30 percent from 25 percent. That will raise the effective tax rate on miners to 47 percent from 31 percent.

The government’s “unilateral decision to dishonor existing development agreements” is disappointing, Fred Bantubonse, general manager of the chamber, said in a telephone interview from the capital, Lusaka, late yesterday. “This is arm twisting.”

Zambia, Africa’s largest copper producer, expects to earn $450 million in additional revenue this year from higher mining taxes as it seeks to benefit from the metal’s seven-year rally, Kolombo Mwansa, the southern African country’s mines and mineral development minister said on March 4.

The law will result in miners reconsidering any expansion projects because of poor returns, Bantubonse said.

“Any bad law always affects future investment,” he said.

Copper accounts for about 70 percent of Zambia’s export income and production has been rising since the nation sold off state-owned mines 1999, almost three decades after they were nationalized. The proposed increase in taxes comes amid record profits earned by companies including Vedanta Resources Plc., India’s largest copper producer, and First Quantum Minerals Ltd., a Vancouver-based miner of copper in Africa.

— Editor: Athol Bolleurs, Dylan Griffiths.

To contact the reporter on this story: Geoffrey Kapembwa in Lusaka via the Johannesburg bureau at +27- abolleurs@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: March 26, 2008 06:44 EDT

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By Shapi Shacinda

LUSAKA, March 3 (Reuters) – Foreign owners of Zambian copper mines have proposed a 12.5 percent windfall profit tax, rejecting the government’s proposed 25 percent rate, a senior industry official said on Monday.

“I am not able to say whether we will make headway or not,” Frederick Bantubonse, head of the Chamber of Mines of Zambia (CMZ), told Reuters after the group offered counter-proposals on the mining taxes.

Evans Chibiliti, Secretary to the Treasury, was quoted by state media on Monday as saying the government would press ahead with new taxes despite the new suggestions from mining firms.

In January, the government 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, from April 1, to introduce a variable profit tax at 15 percent on taxable income above 8 percent and to raise corporate tax to 30 percent from 25 percent.

Foreign firms could be prohibited from mining copper if they did not the taxes

The CMZ has also proposed a variable profit tax be raised to taxable income above 16 percent from the government-suggested minimum of eight percent.

“If (the government) desires to impose variable profit tax in preference to windfall tax … it should be considered as 16 percent in place of the proposed 8 percent in the (law),” the CMZ said in a proposal submitted to parliament.

CMZ said that instead of introducing a flat rate of 3 percent mineral royalty, the government should introduce the tax at 1 percent, graduating to 3 percent with price increases. The corporate tax rate should remain at current 25 percent.

The group said the money raised through higher taxes should be used to help generate more power, following the costly energy outages suffered in January, and waning capacity.

Mining companies say the government plans would result in excessive taxes and also argue that they were not consulted on the proposals.

(Reporting by Shapi Shacinda; editing by Chris Johnson)

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IMF Report A little too late, Zambian Chronicle Already Warned GRZ
click here: Zambia’s Short To Medium Term Outlook – Extremely Encouraging …
By Shapi Shacinda
LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambia has made strides in growing its economy but needs to handle commodity price windfalls prudently and develop infrastructure to avert a possible recession, the International Monetary Fund said on Monday.

IMF board members were in Zambia to assess economic progress made since the fund, the World Bank and other western financiers reduced the southern African country’s foreign debt to $502 million in 2006 from $7.1 billion.

“We acknowledge that despite the impressive economic performance and positive medium term outlook, challenges and risks remain,” the IMF directors said in a statement after a meeting with President Levy Mwanawasa.

Zambia’s economy has grown by an average 5 percent in the past six years and it has brought inflation to single digits for the first time in three decades.

The Fund said Zambia needed to manage windfall from higher commodity prices wisely to maintain steady economic growth. Copper mining is the cornerstone of the Zambian economy.

Video Clip Add By Us – Underground Mining in Chingola

“We would note two important challenges … the first being how to manage the macro impact of large foreign exchange inflow,” said Miranda Xafa, an IMF director.

“You certainly do not want to get into a boom (and) bust cycle that others have found themselves in, in that while the boom and bust lasts, they try to spend it all at once and while commodity prices fall, they slow down in possible recession.”

Treasury data showed Zambia received nearly $1.5 billion in foreign direct investments while earnings in copper exports were around $4.7 billion in 2007.

“The second challenge is building the infrastructure and removing impediments to private sector development . . . to improve the business climate by facilitating investments and growth,” Xafa said.

The IMF also discussed a new financing package of a “small” undisclosed amount with Zambia after the expiry of the $320 million three-year poverty reduction growth facility.

The IMF warned Zambia about managing its debt.

“We are aware that the government is now seeking a sovereign credit rating that will facilitate access to international capital markets and we are confident that the government will use these funds wisely,” Xafa said.

“We would caution that after this debt forgiveness, it is important to maintain debt sustainability by using non-concessionary borrowing to finance viable projects (that) have a rate of return high enough to justify the borrowing.”

Mwanawasa told the board members that Zambia would continue with prudent macroeconomic management and economic reforms to attract further foreign direct investments.

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Jayanta Mallick

Kolkata, Nov. 30 Aditya Birla Group is keen on Zambian copper mining assets, particularly Luanshya and Baluba, which were once taken over by London-based NRI metal trader Mr Gokul Binani in 1997 from the State-owned Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Ltd (ZCCM) but who after a few years made a messy exit, after which the operating company went into liquidation.

Speaking to Business Line here on Friday, Mr Debu Bhattacharya, Managing Director of Hindalco and the top official in base metal operations, confirmed that. “We are closely looking at the mining assets in Zambia,” he said, and added that an evaluation process was on.

The Luanshya and Baluba mines produced 48,345 tonnes of copper in concentrate and 1,216 tonnes of cobalt in concentrate during the financial year ended March 31, 1997 before privatisation. The assets are now under receivership of Grant Thornton.

Mr Bhattacharya, who is also Vice-Chairman of Novelis Inc, said that the group was looking for opportunities in South America too to pick up copper mining assets. “Not many such assets are available for acquisition worldwide currently,” he said, and indicated that a number of copper mines in Columbia, Peru and Argentina were on the group’s radar.

The group is aggressively attempting to enhance its copper resource ownership in relation to the in-house finished capacity.

“Though we have adequate long-term coverage in bauxite, our current coverage in copper is around 40 per cent, which we now target to increase it to 60 per cent,” he said, without specifying a timeframe. All the group’s applications for fresh bauxite mining rights were at an “advance stage” of processing.

Novelis legacy losses

Mr Bhattacharya said the losses on account of legacy contracts incurred by Novelis Inc before acquisition, could be wiped out fully within a year. Novelis, now part of the Aditya Birla group, had incurred losses of about $120 million associated with its legacy contracts during the first six months of 2006.

In an SEC filing, the US company in August 2006 had admitted that “depending on the fluctuations in metal prices for the remainder of 2006 and other factors, we may continue to incur losses on sale under these contracts”.

Mr Bhattacharya said after the takeover that the financial performance of Novelis, particularly related to costs, has been showing signs of improvement. The accounting year of Novelis has been changed to April-March from January-April to align it with that of the group.

No Re-$ parity risk

He said that neither Hindalco nor Novelis was affected by the sharp increase in rupee against the dollar this year because of two reasons — full cost pass-on to the buyers and absence of cross subsidisation in case of intra group transactions of metal and material.

He felt aluminium was in an upward leg of a long-term cycle and the current cycle could be better than the previous one.

Source: Hindu Business Line

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MUMBAI: The Anil Agarwal-controlled Vedanta Resources is close to increasing its stake in Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia to 79.4% by buying out a portion of the Zambian government’s holding.

The London-listed Vedanta, which owns 51% stake in Konkola, wants to increase the stake by buying out Zambia Copper Investments’ (ZCI) 28.4% stake in the largest copper mine there. The state-run ZCCM Investment Holdings holds 20.6% stake in Konkola.

“For the acquisition of 51% stake, Vedanta had paid $48.2 million in 2004. As the valuation of the copper mines doubled in three years, it will be curious to know how much Vedanta would be paying for ZCI’s stake,” said a source close to the development. Senior Vedanta officials said the process of acquiring the stake is on. They declined to reveal further details.

Vedanta has been discussing with ZCI the call option, which was agreed when Vedanta bought a 51% stake from the Zambian government in 2004. The company could not exercise the call option as the two parties failed to agree on the valuation of ZCI’s shares.

Adding fuel to fire, Zambian economists and investment analysts have voiced their opposition to Vedanta’s buy-out of national resource. ZCI has only Konkola stake as its asset at present. Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal recently announced that the two parties had resolved their differences and that an independent valuation is in progress.

While ZCI chairman Tom Kamwendo was quoted by a Zambian daily, “With the resolution of differences over valuation, the next step for the company is to offer its interest to Vedanta.”

Vedanta shares were hoverng below 2,030 pence on London Stock Exchange on Tuesday, down 1.36% on speculation that ZCI may sell its stake through the Lusaka Stock Exchange. On November 23, the share had shot up 12% on market buzz that a Chinese mining company may buy out the promoters’ stake in Vedanta.

“ZCI’s shares in Konkola are being offered to Vedanta rather than being sold through the Lusaka exchange or sold in any other way because that is the provision of the legal agreement that was reached at the time Vedanta was acquiring its current 51% shareholding in Konkola,” said Mr Kamwendo. On public misgivings about the stake increase, Mr Kamwendo said such concerns were better resolved between the Zambian authorities and Vedanta.

Source: Economic Times

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HOPING TO BOOST FOREIGN INVESTMENT

 

Zambia is to defer payments on a 30% customs duty for mining equipment for one year to allow foreign mining companies time to get operations running smoothly.

LUSAKA (Reuters)  – 

Zambia will defer payments on customs duties in a bid to boost foreign investment in its mining industry, finance minister Ng’andu Magande told Reuters in a weekend interview.

Magande said Zambia’s Treasury will defer payments on a 30 percent customs duty on imported mining equipment for up to one year to give companies a chance to get operations going smoothly and gain profits from copper and cobalt projects.

“I can’t tax somebody who is not making profits,” he said.

The Treasury has said it would raise mineral royalties to 3.0 percent from 0.6 percent and corporate tax to 35 percent from the current 30 percent for mining companies following a rise in global metals prices.

Magande said negotiations on royalties, which were scheduled to start in September because Zambia was hiring foreign consultants on the talks.

“We should be able to start this process by the end of September or October. Everybody thinks that perhaps within three months we should be through with the negotiations,” he said.

Copper mining earns the bulk of Zambia’s foreign exchange but analysts say the country does not reap enough benefits becaue the mines are owned by foreigners.

He noted there was no fresh investment from new foreign companies but that existing projects were expected to raise output.

“Most of the big companies that have already had (investment) plans are saying to us that the highest curve of investments is this year and then next year we will see production coming up,” said Magande.

Foreign firms operating in Zambia include London-based Vedanta Resources Plc , Canada’s First Quantum Minerals , Swiss firm Glencore International AG and Australia’s Equinox Minerals Ltd.

Most of Zambia’s big copper mines are majority-owned by foreign firms, with the government holding no more than a 14 percent stake in any one venture.

Zambia forecasts finished copper output to hit 670,000 tonnes in 2007 from 515,000 tonnes the previous year.  

http://www.mineweb.com/mineweb/view/mineweb/en/page504?oid=25358&sn=Detail

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It is saddening to note that the Heads of States for the SADC region failed to hold Mugabe to the fire at the just ended symposium. Instead they characterized him as a champion in the fight against white supremacies.  

While it is true that whites have done some very dissolute things the world over against other races in their quest for power and wealth in the past, there have also been times when they meant well for the sake of common good, especially the Brits at least. 

Mugabe can’t hide being racial remarks as a cover-up for the British led embargo and sanctions this time around.

We actually think that the Brits of all people have been impartial in their application of justice when it comes to then Southern Rhodesia and now Zimbabwe. 

In 1965, then British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson declared sanctions against Salisbury because Ian Smith was threatening Zambian sovereignty using economic saboteur tactics. Ian Smith was worried that the moderate Kenneth Kaunda would be very instrumental in helping black Zimbabwean’s get their independence from his white minority government. 

Ian figured that if he cut off power at Kariba since he controlled the turbines and generators of the giant Kariba Dam on the Zambezi River, the Copperbelt – Zambia’s economic engine then would ground to a halt and he did.

Dr. Kaunda told the Brits he would ask the Russian for military help and Prime Minister Wilson offered help instead. He (Wilson) offered to send a token force—a squadron of R.A.F. fighters and a battalion of the Royal Scots—to the Copperbelt.

President Kaunda accepted the air protection (Zambia only had ten military aircraft of its own), but rejected the offer of troops unless they were sent directly to the dam. Not quite so funny were the new economic sanctions that Wilson slapped on then Rhodesia.

In addition to the embargo on Rhodesian tobacco and sugar (the nation’s major crops), Britain also banned imports of asbestos (a $30 million export item annualized), copper, lithium, chrome, iron, steel and meat.  

That made the embargo 95% complete. Simultaneously, Wilson ordered a halt to interest payments, dividends and pensions from Britain to Rhodesian residents, thus damming a flow of income that totaled some $25 million the previous year.

Sir Harold Wilson even outlawed Rhodesia’s bright new independence postal stamp as British postage. The Brits did all this against their own white brothers because then Ian Smith was attacking Zambia’s economic sovereignty and interests; it made world news that Time Magazine carried this as a cover story in their Friday, December 10, 1965 issue.

This white supremacy crap we are getting from Mugabe can only hold water to those without a deep understanding of history. What is needed is a consented effort to force Mugabe to do the right things for the Zimbabwean Enterprise.

(Sir Harold Wilson – Former British Prime Minister)

Mugabe needs to respect human rights, he needs to respect the tenets of democracy and he needs to do things in the interest of the common Zimbabwean. No country has ever survived by not paying attention to their own issues face on and inflation at 4500% is simply unconscionable. classy-daddy-3.gif

A few months ago, President Levy P Mwanawasa, SC. called the Zimbabwean crisis for want it was “a sinking Titanic” and the torn was right then and should be amplified now; that’s the memo this week from us at the Zambian Chronicle … thanks a trillion. 

(you can read the full article from Time Magazine in the comments column below) 

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr. 

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle 

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