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Well, ladies and gentlemen; the numbers are in and our team has been working hard to be as accurate as possible. The verdict is clear, Levy P Mwanawasa, SC. has posthumously clearly won the Zambian Chronicle “Africa’s President of the Year Award” for 2008.

 

Most people in our audience know that Zambian Chronicle was started last year as an alternative multi-media private enterprise committed to raising the standard, while increasing awareness not only in Africa but around the world and last year’s award went to Zine El Abidine Ben Ali president of Tunisia.

 

You can read more about last year’s award and conditions as well as modalities used to reach that consideration by clicking on this link; Zambian Chronicle’s African President of the Year (2007) Award Goes To President Ben Ali of Tunisia …

 

Last year Levy P Mwanawasa, SC. ended up in the top 7 presidents on the continent in critical areas but had a favorable rating ranking him in the overall top 5% percentile. We expanded this year’s recital parameters because we wanted rankings to include among other things performance based criterion during a president’s tenure apart from national indices only.

 

GDP per capita growth

Levy scored highest in the criteria because nominal GDP per capita growth is an important aspect of how well the general populace perform in a given economy. It has a direct bearing on how well the citizenry are benefiting from local economic growth.

 

Nominal GDP figures include less estimation and more accurately reflect the participation of the inhabitants of a country in the global economy as well. These figures are so important that each year three different organizations (IMF, World Bank and CIA) each come up with different ones.

 

In our analyses we used a grossing method that gave us weighted averages. So from the time he took over office to his death in 2008, LPM presided over a nominal GDP per capita growth that grew a staggering 300% from as low as $360 to $1,400.00. Of course the world best is over $44,000.00 but $1,400.00 was a great start for us.

 

This did not come by sheer luck, LPM and his team worked so hard that they negotiated outstanding public liabilities with donor nations and other ultra-vires creditors that they managed to wipe out our national debt from a staggering $7 billion to as low as $500 million.

 

Our own national reserves increased from zero at the time he took over to $1.4 billion. In fact as we report today, Zambia has FX reserves to protect against any outflows, says Central Bank Governor Dr. Caleb Fundanga …  In terms of percentage growth, the number is actually infinity because nothing can be divided into zero.

 

Gross official reserves include Bank of Zambia’s (BoZ) holdings of foreign cash, foreign exchange and foreign securities, Zambia’s reserve position at the IMF, and SDR holdings. Gross reserves data is compiled on daily basis by adding/subtracting transactions for the day to/from the previous day’s position.

 

These transactions cover all purchases and sales of foreign exchange, donor inflows, debt service disbursements, government and BoZ uses of foreign exchange, interest receipts and payments, valuation gains and losses and any other inflows and outflows.

 

There simply is no comparison as to another president’s achievement on the continent of Africa either in terms of tenure or simply duration that even came close to that of LPM in this area at all.

 

Transparency Index

This was the hardest of all parameter for us because data complied by Transparency International from 2000 to 2008 was different in many aspects. This is because the organization changed their reporting structure and added more variables in their indices that make up what they call Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

 

While in 2000 they only reported on 90 nations, for instance; they increased that to almost 180 for 2008. In 2000 Zambia shared the 57th position with Latvia but in 2008 despite being low, some of the variables were due to lack of enough raw data.

 

So, in certain areas if we used the same string of data from 2000 to 2008 as complied by Transparent International, a lot of flaws would have been discovered because in some instances we would have been comparing apples to oranges and the resultant would not have been either logical or asymmetrical.

 

So for us at the Zambian Chronicle we looked more at how general business practices improved on the ground within the Zambian Enterprise. We looked at the unprecedented bold decisions LPM took on the continent to an extend of striping of his predecessor immunity due to alleged past corrupt practices.

 

Never before had this ever happened on the continent of Africa but it showed his commitment to building a different nation that did not do business as usual. This earned him a lot of sway among western nations and increased his capital as a steward of good governance.

 

We looked at how he let the law take its course without interfering in any way possible despite all kinds of pressure from all avenues and forums … I am proud to report even pressure from us at the Zambian Chronicle at times, for instance.

 

We looked at how level-headed he was about graft and its other derivatives and found no comparison as to another president’s achievement on the continent of Africa either in terms of tenure or simply duration that even came close to that of LPM in this area as well.

 

National GDP growth

This is not supposed to be confused with the nominal GDP per capita above. While the earlier has to do with individual(s) income and subsequent participation in a national economy the later has to do with the overall national economic growth.

 

GDP real growth has to do with the total goods and services produced and or consumed in a given year and it is the best measure of national wealth and a nation’s capacity to compete in terms of movement of goods and services.

 

Even more what we were interested in was not just GDP real growth but GDP (real) growth rate which shows the increase in value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year. It does not take into account purchasing power parity neither does it account for inflation. It is a measure of economic development.

 

That real growth rate is extremely important because it is the one that eventually gives a nation the ability to surpass another or be replaced by another in terms of economic development and or ranking. For example, 100 years ago the economy of the United State of America and that of Mexico were the same size numerically.

 

However, the US economy grew by one more percentage point rate higher than that of Mexico each year for those 100 years and today America has the world’s largest economy while Mexico ranks as the 52nd.

 

Furthermore, China had been lagging behind most economies all the way through the 90’s until it turned its economic engines to supercharged status. Within 10 years, it surpassed the Italian, French, British and German economies because of having a reasonable real GDP real growth rate. Today it is the world third largest economy.

 

On the African continent, Angola has enjoyed the status of one of the fastest growing economies not only in Africa but in the world. For instance its growth rate in 2005 was over 19% making it the world’s second fastest growing economy. In 2007 its rate was over 16.30% making it the world’s third fastest growing economy.

 

But what makes the Zambian Chronicle vouch for Levy (LPM) was the fact that when he inherited the economy of the Zambian Enterprise we were actually experiencing negative growth rates more like Zimbabwe (-6%) this year.

 

What LPM did was to reverse the trend from such negatives to the extend of almost -7% in the late 90’s to a positive 8% last year. This means that LPM tenure presided over a turn around of almost 15% into positive territory. It is so much easier to keep an economy in positive territory as opposed to moving it from a negative to a positive one but Levy did it.

 

Somehow he turned non performing assets such as mines, some that were almost flooded because they had been inoperable for a long time into profit making enterprises for the benefit of all within the Zambian Enterprise.

 

He commissioned new ones such as Lumwana that spurred new economic activities even in forgotten places like North Western Province turning the area in a new Copperbelt with new discoveries ranging from Oil and Gas to Gold and new Uranium deposits.

 

We began to be a premier tourist attraction again like there was something wrong with us in the first place. He created a conducive environment for commerce to thrive by and for all and all of a sudden commercial flights were being diverted to Lusaka instead of Gaborone, Lubito and Harare.

 

All of a sudden Lusaka was were it was all at, as we saw Bill Clinton Jets Into Zambia while the Best Ever US Ambassador To Zambia – Carmen M Martinez was busy cozying our relations and Mrs Bush With Zambian Kids – PlayPump™ having fun.

 

We looked, compared and contrasted with any other president on the continent who turned economic activities around within such a short period and we found none. There simply were no comparisons as to another president’s achievement on the continent of Africa either in terms of tenure or simply duration that even came close to that of LPM in this area as well.

 

Food security

With Levy at the helm, the Zambian Enterprise moved from being a donor recipient to a donor. Our enterprise moved from food shortages to Zambia to export 150,000 T white maize … as late as December 15, 2007 but today we will need to import a million tones.

 

Using government subsidies and proper farm produce marking strategies, Levy working in concert with his Minister of Agriculture then Mundia Sikatana created incentives within the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) that spurred agricultural production to unprecedented level on the continent of Africa.

 

Within his first term we had attained food security as well as sufficiency, were looking at donations and export for white maize a thing that had never happened in Zambian history. There simply were no comparisons as to another president’s achievement on the continent of Africa either in terms of tenure or simply duration that even came close to that of LPM in this area as well.

 

Peace Index Analysis

For this analysis we used a qualitative assessment of the level of distrust in other citizens, ranked from 1-5 (very low to very high) by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Analysis team.

 

The lowest score (1) records that the majority of other people can be trusted and that there is an overall positive climate of trust in the country. The highest score (5) indicates that people are extremely cautious in dealing with others.

 

We found this unit of measure to be the most accurate and espoused it in totality and we were impressed to find that Zambia actually beat a lot of major western nations even when it comes to being a peaceful nation.

 

For instance, when Levy noticed injustices and what impact they had on peace in neighboring Zimbabwe, he was first to condemn Robert Mugabe calling the situation a “Sinking Titanic”. Never before had this ever happened in Africa where a sitting president openly rebuked another for the sake of world peace.

 

While Levy may not personally claim that big prize nationally as it had been passed on to him from his two predecessors, the very fact that he kept Zambia even more safe and improved on earlier released figures combined with other factors such as above is reason to give him first place on our continent by Zambian Chronicle.

 

We looked, compared and contrasted with any other president on the continent who turned economic activities around within such a short period and we found none. There simply were no comparisons as to another president’s achievement on the continent of Africa either in terms of tenure or simply duration that even came close to that of LPM in this area as well.

 

Other World Social, Economic & Political Indicators

While different social, economic and political contexts were used in comparing crime data from societies that are fundamentally different and may ignore key issues present within the Zambian Enterprise that impact upon levels of reporting some similarities were drawn.

 

For example, different social norms in some countries may make it difficult for women to report cases of rape or sexual abuse, while in others; women are encouraged to come forward. The level of insurance coverage in a community is also a key indicator of the likelihood of citizens approaching the police as their claim for compensation may require such notification.

 

In addition, in societies where the police are or have been mistrusted by the population, most specifically during periods of authoritarian rule, reporting levels are likely to be lower than in cases where the police are regarded as important members of the community.

 

The International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS) is perhaps a more sensitive and accurate measure of crime – and arguably offers a picture of how the public views the criminal justice system – but is currently limited to a few, mainly industrialized, countries so these data are not included.

 

But what we found was rather shocking for a developing nation that the Zambian Enterprise actually ranked above average on the continent during Levy’s tenure. There simply were no comparisons as to another president’s achievement on the continent of Africa either in terms of tenure or simply duration that even came close to that of LPM in this area as well.

 

Overall, for us it was not just a question of bias, it was more of logic, data analysis and factual that we were able to crown levy P Mwanawasa, SC with the honorable title of “Africa’s President of the Year Award” for 2008 posthumously.

 

Long Live Levism, Long Live Levism, May Your Soul Rest In God’s Eternal Peace and congratulations for scooping this year’s Zambian Chronicle “Africa’s President of the Year Award” for 2008.

 

Compliments of the Season, Live Long & Prosper; that’s this week’s memo from us at the Zambian Chronicle … thanks a trillion.

 

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO  & President – Zambian Chronicle 

 

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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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Posted: January 14, 2008, 2:10 PM by Peter Koven

The government of Zambia has proposed higher taxes on mining companies, and that affects two names Canadian investors follow closely: Equinox Minerals Ltd. and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. UBS analysts Alec Kodatsky and Tony Lesiak have tried to break down the new tax regime and what it means for those companies. The government is expected to increase the corporate tax rate from 25% to 30% and the royalty rate from 0.6% to 3%.

In the case of Equinox, the company has already negotiated  a 10-year development agreement for its Lumwana project, and believes it is exempt from higher taxes for the length of the agreement. Mr. Kodatsky is keeping that as his base-case assumption. But if the government decides to implement higher taxes at Lumwana right away, his net asset value forecast on Equinox would drop 7.3%, from $6.06 a share to $5.62 a share. He is maintaining a “buy” rating and a target of $6.75 a share.

First Quantum, on the other hand, could see an immediate tax and royalty hike at its Bwana Mkubwa and Kashime projects if the tax changes are implemented. It has a long-term tax stability agreement at the Kansanshi project, but Mr. Lesiak is already assuming higher royalty rates on that one.

Mr. Lesiak has cut his earnings per share estimate for 2008 from $11.78 to $11.50, and he lowered his 2009 forecast from $13.64 to $13.30. He is maintaining a “buy” rating on the stock but reduced his target to $120 a share from $125 a share.

Source: National Post

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By Joseph J. Schatz The Associated Press

LUSAKA, Zambia: Resurgent global interest in nuclear power has made Zambia, a country better known for its vast copper reserves, into a hotbed of uranium exploration.

The search for uranium in Zambia is part of a larger wave of uranium exploration and mining across mineral-rich Southern Africa that is raising hopes of new jobs and tax revenue, but also sparking debate over safety and security.

Many countries are looking for cleaner and less-costly alternatives to oil and coal power, and uranium prices are high after a decades-long slump.African Energy Resources, an Australian-owned mining outfit, is drilling on the southern border with Zimbabwe.

Equinox, a Canadian-owned company, said in November that there was high-grade uranium in the Lumwana open pit copper mine in northwestern Zambia; it hopes to begin stockpiling it next year.

Zambia’s government is now completing new regulations to cover the mining, processing and export of uranium products, said Maxwell Mwale, Zambia’s deputy minister of mines and mineral development for large scale mining projects.“We are assured of a market in the sense that demand for nuclear power is increasing,” Mwale said.

“Now there are these global warming concerns and issues of reducing carbon emissions, so nuclear power is attractive.” Mwale added, “We had to put in place regulations that conformed to International Atomic Energy Agency standards.

Elsewhere in Africa, exploration is ramping up across the border in Botswana. Namibia’s uranium exporting industry has seen a revival, with a $112 million expansion of the long-running Rossing open mine and the opening of a new mine in 2006 by Paladin Energy in Australia.African Energy Resources has poured $8 million into its exploration project with Albidon Mining in southern Zambia over the past three years.

The exploration is the “biggest push on uranium exploration since the late ’70s,” said Alasdair Cooke, executive chairman of African Energy. With the global energy market coming under so much pressure from new economies, “uranium has become part of the mix.

Faced with domestic energy shortages, the government of South Africa released a draft nuclear energy policy in August pledging a rebirth in the country’s uranium mining, processing and enrichment industries, and the construction of new nuclear reactors over the next decade.

The region’s economic powerhouse, South Africa gave up its nuclear weapons program following the end of apartheid in the 1990s, but still has two nuclear reactors that produce 6 percent of the country’s power.

The scramble for uranium marks a stark turnaround after an industry slump brought on by the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl that made nuclear power a dirty phrase, and by the end of the nuclear arms race of the Cold War.

Concerns over climate change and pollution created by coal, along with high oil prices, have sent uranium prices from less than $10 a pound at the start of the decade to a current price of $88 a pound.

Many countries, including the United States, are planning to build new nuclear reactors, and China is looking to imported uranium for the many nuclear reactors it will use to help propel its rapid economic growth.Mining companies are looking to countries across Africa.

In Western Africa is a leading uranium supplier and produced 3,434 metric tons in 2006.In Southern Africa, the search focuses on the uranium-enriched crust of what geologists call the Karoo Basin.

Namibia and South Africa are believed to hold 6 percent and 7 percent, respectively, of the world’s recoverable uranium resources, trailing only Australia, Kazakhstan, Canada and the United States, according to the World Nuclear Association, a nuclear power industry advocacy group.Up-to-date estimates of Zambia’s potential are hard to pin down.

Here, long-standing uranium exploration started by Italian and Japanese investors ground to a halt in the 1980s.

“With the price increase we’ve seen in the last couple of years, the uranium resource is now quite economical” to mine, said Harry Michael, chief operating officer of Equinox Minerals, an Australian and Canadian venture that is running Lumwana Mine, along Zambia’s border with Congo.

At Lumwana, uranium deposits mingle with copper, and will be mined as part of the same process.Uranium mining could create valuable jobs in mining, transportation and other sectors in a country where about 20 percent of the work force is formally employed, Mwale, the deputy minister in Zambia, said.

Other than more developed South Africa, most nations in the region will remain, for the moment, suppliers of uranium rather than users of it. How much those countries will benefit from their exports will be a crucial question for policy makers.

The issue is sure get attention in Zambia, where the government has been promising for more than a year to increase taxes on foreign copper mining companies that secured minuscule tax rates early in the decade when copper prices were low, and are now reaping huge profits.

Even though nuclear power is seen by many as the environmentally friendly energy source of the future, industry officials still face opposition from some environmental groups and other skeptics.Just east of Zambia, in Malawi, the government’s grant of a uranium mining license to Paladin sparked complaints from the Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation.

The Malawian government has a 15 percent stake in the project.While the group acknowledged that the almost $200 million mining project could create jobs and profits, in a recent press statement it questioned its effect on the environment and whether “the economic benefits to Malawi through the introduction of uranium mining operations outweigh the social concerns and hazards associated with them.

Experts in the industry say that while radon gas emitted by uranium presents some radiation risks, modern technology makes them negligible to workers and the public.

Radiation exposure is low in open cut mining, and can be further lessened by enforcing strict hygiene regulations on miners using uranium oxide concentrate, according to the World Nuclear Association.In an underground mine, modern ventilation systems are needed to keep miners safe, the association said.

In some regions, the increased demand for uranium has prompted security concerns, especially amid reports of illegal uranium mining across the border in Congo – the same area that produced some of the uranium used in the atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Counterterrorism experts worry about extremists getting radiation materials through a black market for nuclear components that operates despite attempts to tighten security. Growth in mining and processing could make security even more crucial.Mwale, of the Zambia mining ministry, said that Zambia was being cautious.

“We are very particular, as a country, that there will be no lapses at any stage of the handling of the uranium product,” he said.

Source: International Herald Tribune  

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By Shapi Shacinda

LUSAKA, (Reuters) – Zambia plans to pass a new uranium law this month to allow foreign firms to start mining uranium on a large scale for use as a source of energy to drive its economy and for exports, a minister said on Wednesday.

Kalombo Mwansa, the minister of mines and minerals development, said the southern African country had drawn up guidelines on mining and exports of uranium in line with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The law would be approved before the end of December after consultations with the United Nations agency, to enable foreign firms that have been exploring for uranium to apply for mining licences in areas where uranium has been discovered, he said.

“We have already drawn guidelines for mining uranium which we handed to the ministry of justice. The justice minister is currently consulting the UN on the mining, storage and transportation of uranium,” Mwansa told Reuters in an interview.

“A statutory instrument (legislation) will be signed before the end of December. Once we publish the law, we will begin to process applications and ask (more) mining companies to apply for licences,” he added.

“Our legislation must be in line with the guidelines for the International Atomic Energy because of the sensitivity surrounding uranium,” Mwansa said.

Mwansa said uranium had been discovered in parts of mineral-rich Zambia and that more licences would be awarded to foreign firms for exploration of uranium in other parts of the country which the government believed had uranium deposits.

“Currently we have uranium deposits in north-western and southern provinces, but we feel more deposits can be found with much more exploration in other parts of the country,” Mwansa said.

Mwansa said Zambia in future would export energy derived from uranium to neighbouring countries, but he gave no further details.

He said uranium would contribute more foreign exchange to the treasury of a country that ranks among the world’s largest copper and cobalt producers.

“Apart from bringing in more foreign exchange, the new uranium mining companies will create more jobs for our people,” Mwansa said.

Copper and cobalt mining is Zambia’s main economic lifeblood although other minerals such as uranium and nickel have been discovered recently.

Some of the foreign firms prospecting for uranium in Zambia are Australia’s Africa-focused miners Albidon Ltd (ALDq.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and Australia-based African Energy Resources (AFR.AX: Quote, Profile, Research), have jointly discovered more uranium deposits in southern Zambia.

Others are Lithic Metals and Energy Ltd (LMEY.L: Quote, Profile, Research), which is listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market and Equinox Minerals Ltd, all of which have said they have found good results in their exploration areas.

(Editing by Michael Roddy)

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Seattle Times staff columnist

Our relationships with the rest of the world need some updating.

Things are changing. A large delegation from Zambia was in Seattle this week making a case for investment, not charity, as the cure for poverty.

It’s an argument many in Africa have been making for years, usually in the other Washington.

While few in the world’s leading capitalist nation are biting, China is pouring money into the continent in search of influence and profit. In Zambia, the Chinese invest in mining, retail and construction.

Viewed from the U.S., Africa seems a solid mass of disease, war, unstable dictators and rampant corruption.

The Zambian delegation, including the country’s president, argued that this view is full of stereotypes that do not apply to their country.

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Zambia is a country of 12 million in southern Africa. Copper mining is central to the economy, but tourism, manufacturing and agriculture are growing.

The Zambians were invited way out west to Seattle by the Initiative for Global Development, which believes eradicating deep poverty would eliminate many of the ills, including diseases and conflicts, that afflict the planet.

Members call themselves “business leaders working to end poverty.”

Getting people out of poverty is the right thing to do, but it also can be profitable for business and relieve governments in developed nations of numerous international headaches.

The U.S ambassador to Zambia has said a stable Zambia contributes to the U.S. goal of peace, democracy and economic growth in southern Africa.

IGD was founded three years ago by Bill Gates Sr.; Daniel J. Evans, the former senator and governor; former EPA administrator Bill Ruckelshaus; Weyerhaeuser heir Bill Clapp; and John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The delegation also scheduled meetings at Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing and elsewhere.

levy_combine300.gifAt the session I attended, the president, Levy Mwanawasa, and his ministers made a compelling case for investment. How’d you like to pay no taxes on business earnings?

They talked about their new zero-tolerance policy on corruption and their commitment to democracy, stability and economic growth.

And, said the minister of commerce, trade and industry, the weather is perfect.

What are we waiting for?

Well, actually, the weather isn’t perfect. It gets pretty hot there, and then there is the matter of infrastructure, and if they have cured corruption they are the only nation anywhere to have done so.

Zambia still has problems, but curing poverty would help solve them.

Business investment (not exploitation) is necessary.

Mwanawasa invited American entrepreneurs to visit and see that “the truth is the opposite of what you think is true.”

It’s not exactly the opposite, but Zambia seems to be at a point where investment could benefit Zambians and offer the U.S. new opportunities to make money and make friends.

Jerry Large’s column appears Monday and Thursday. Reach him at 206-464-3346 or jlarge@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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AEL – A South African Manufacturer Of Explosives Now Listed On The Lusaka Stock Exchange …

 

FILL IT UP An AEL Zambia re-pump emulsion truck filling up at the company’s plant outside Mufulira

Picture by: AEL

FILL IT UP An AEL Zambia re-pump emulsion truck filling up at the company’s plant outside Mufulira

By: Jonathan Faurie

Commercial explosives manufacturing and distribution company, African Explosives (AEL) has made a long-term investment in the Zambian Mining industry by listing on the Lusaka Stock Exchange says AEL international business director Stuart Wade.

The listing was confirmed in October 2006, Zambian investors and employees currently hold 20% of the company’s shares.

Wade reports that Zambia has traditionally been a large business hub for AEL. During the 1990s there was a slow down in mining activities but renewed interest in the region has made AEL’s Zambian expansion more possible and there are now significant investment plans.

“The company is in the process of upgrading, investing, reconfiguring, and aligning itself around the growth in the market place,” says Wade. This investment will expand the companies regional presence in Central Africa. The investment is configured to deliver products, blasting solutions and develop long term partnerships with customers.

Wade says that AEL Zambia is in a position in Africa to support both itself and the region and feels that the Zambian operation has the biggest growth potential. Copper, which is abundant in Zambia, is in huge demand at the moment contributing to the fact that the Zambian and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) operations are positioned to take part in the mining boom in the Central African region.

AEL has earmarked Zambia and the DRC as strategic growth areas for the company. Wade reports that the amount of money that is currently being invested in Zambia could be doubled when AEL DRC is fully established in the coming years. The company has achieved this growth through five board approved investment projects that are being executed in order to grow in Zambia.

Meanwhile, AEL has confirmed its involvement at Australian miner Equinox Minerals’ Lumwana mine in north western Zambia, reports Wade.

“This is by far one of the biggest greenfields projects that we have worked on to date,” says Wade.

The mine is 65 km west of the town of Solwezi. Equinox has acquired a large-scale mining license, which covers an area of around 1 355 km2, and includes two major copper deposits, Malundwe and Chimiwungo, as well as 27 exploration prospects.

The two copper deposits are 7 km apart, and will be mined sequentially by openpit mining methods. AEL reports that the mine design forecasts the extraction of 348-million tons of ore. Equinox has allocated land and amenities to mine supply partners to supply the mine, and plans to establish a town site to cater for up to 5 000 people.

AEL Zambia MD Wayne Du Chenne pointed out that the size of Lumwana, and the explosives needed to mine 20-million tons of ore a year, would require the erection of a bulk emulsion manufacturing plant on site to produce 3 000 t of bulk emulsion that will be required in the third year of the operation.

“Added to this, will be three to four mobile manufacturing units that will travel to the benches and deliver the emulsion down the hole. This infrastructure and capital equipment will require an investment of close to R30-million by AEL,” Du Chenne reveals.

Wade explains that the company has already been through the preparation phase of the project and is currently commencing with the building of magazines and civil work on the bulk emulsion plant. Once completed, AEL will have a bulk explosives manufacturing plant within the mine’s light industrial area Wade reports that once the site is fully functional it will conform to all the client’s requirements from the international fire protection standards to the environmental protection requirements.

Wade reports that the construction phase to bring the plant to full capacity will be completed by the first quarter of 2008.

Wade says the contract between AEL and Equinox will cover a period of ten years. While not disclosing the value of the Lumwana contract, he commits that the company’s Zambian operation faces even further expansion.

AEL is further positioning itself to start explosives supply to First Quantum Minerals, frontier mine in the DRC. The mine is still in the early stages of its development with pre-stripping and establishment of the mine is currently in progress.

He reports that the changing legislative environment, taxes, duties and logistics are the biggest challenges that the company faces in Africa.

Wade adds that the industry-wide lack of skilled labour is a concern for AEL. “AEL is currently manning itself up with competent people from each region who are able to work in the highly technical environment of explosives,” says Wade.

Wade feels that skills transfer is a key area that AEL has been focusing on as part of its long term strategy, “when we enter into new projects in Zambia we use the existing employees and structures to man up the projects. This provides excellent opportunities to grow local skills and competencies for future business growth,” he says

AEL also runs businesses in Ghana, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso.

“AEL has set up business hubs in Central, Eastern, and Western Africa to service the needs of clients outside of South Africa,” Wade concludes.

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