AT a time when the commodity price on the international market is high, the Chamber of Mines Zambia has disclosed that Zambia has recorded a 4.2 percent slump in copper production during the 2021 financial year.
Chamber Chief Executive Officer Sokwani Chilembo disclosed the development to Kitwe on Tuesday.
The country has this year produced a total of 659,939.67 tonnes of copper while last year 688,580 .08 was produced representing a 4.2 percent reduction.
This development has been attributed to increasing difficulties in operating conditions and a lack of capital investments in the sector.
Also, the drop in production has been due to global supply chain challenges such as the shortage of transportation containers.
“We are down by 4.2 percent on last year. We are however hopeful that things will be better in the coming year with the positive changes in the mineral royal tax-deductibility and allowability of interest as in the budget.
“The reductions are due to increasing operating conditions because we have not been doing as much capital expenditure and investment over the last three years,” Mr Chilembo said.
And the Economic Association of Zambia (EAZ) president Lubinda Habazoka says it is unfortunate that the mining sector has recorded a reduction in copper production at a time when the commodity price on the international market is high.
Dr Habazoka said if the government was running the mines, it would have increased production for the country to benefit from the high copper prices on the international market.
He said going forward, Zambian entrepreneurs should be encouraged to own mines and source for funds to run mines for the country to realize full benefits from its copper resources.
“It is unfortunate that mining companies have reduced production when copper prices are going up and the demand is very high. I know the pressure was partially due to mineral royalty not being taxable, usually, what happens when the copper price is high the mining companies neither increase the cost of production per tonner nor they would just say they have reduced the tonnage because nobody wants to pay their fair share of taxes,” Dr Habazoka said.
The reduction in Copper production comes at a time when Konkola Copper Mine and Mopani Copper Mine, the country’s major copper mining companies are not producing at their optimum level due to the ownership uncertainties and low capital investments.