Lumwana MFEZ creates jobs in Zambia

Over 10 000 jobs are to be created in addition to the present 3 800 at Lumwana, the copper mine that has changed the face of one of Zambia’s cinderella regions, North-Western Province.

This follows the government’s decision to sign a Statutory Instrument (SI)   allowing Lumwana Mining Company (LMC) to operate the Lumwana Multi-Facility Economic Zone (LMFEZ).

According to the company managing director Adam Wright, the recently-launched economic zone is ‘’aimed at benefitting the local economy and not Lumwana as a company directly.’’

The company was projecting that up to$50 million will be invested into the zone by various local and international firms once it is operational.

In addition to this financial outlay, Commerce, Trade & Industry minister Felix Mutati has confirmed that government has sought further investment in the facility to increase the number of people that shall benefit in the area.

“On our part as government, we have convinced Japanese company Hitachi to come and set up a manufacturing plant. They have agreed to invest about $10 million in starting the plant that shall create lots of skilled well-paying jobs,’’ Mutati elaborated.

The economic zone, a brain child of the Equinox-owned company, is part of the firm’s plan to help Zambia in its quest to diversify into sustainable projects which shall complement the mining activities that have breathed a new life to the province in particular and Zambia in general.

Among the industries expected to operate in the zone are agro processing, petrochemicals, construction, manufacturing and hospitality, among others.

By virtue of the zone being near the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola, it is expected to increase trade integration with the two neighbouring countries and generate substantial amounts of foreign exchange.

This is the first time that such a zone is being operated by a mine in Zambia and Lumwana  sees this as an enhancement of its corporate partnership to the Zambian government whom it thanks for giving it the opportunity to do business in the country.

The company projects a copper output of about 135 000 tonnes this year.

The opening of Lumwana mine in Solwezi about one and half years ago has placed the North-Western Province on the road to becoming a new economic hub in the country, with the benefits arising from the mine expected to positively affect the rest of the province.

In addition to the many new jobs created in the mine itself, the colossal scale of investment into Lumwana has seen the building of new roads, supporting infrastructure and utilities, including business and recreational facilities, which are all part of the  new mining town. Up to 1 000 housing units are being constructed in Phase 1 for the estimated staff population which will be directly or indirectly employed by Lumwana, with a further 1 000 units to be constructed as the project grows.

Equinox Minerals Ltd is an international mining company that is dual listed in Canada and Australia on the Toronto Stock  Exchange and the Australian Securities Exchange. Equinox acquired the Lumwana project in 1999 and following nearly 10 years of feasibility, financing and construction, commissioned the mine, plant and infrastructure in December 2008.

The  $900 million Chambishi Multi-Facility Economic Zone on the  Zambian Copperbelt is now operational with eleven manufacturers already operating  and five more expected to come on board in 2010.  Other zones are being set up in Lusaka East and Lusaka South.  The K30 billion allocated for the construction of access roads to the Lusaka South Multi-Facility Economic Zone has been released in full.  To complete infrastructure development at the zone, a total of K20 billion has been allocated in the 2010 national budget.  Completion of the master design plan for the Lusaka East MFEZ was wrapped up at the end of 2009 with construction scheduled to commence some time this year.

The establishment of these zones is attracting state-of-the-art technology into the country through the setting up of a production base for upper markets. This ambitious programme is tailored to accelerate diversification of the country’s export sector. Subsequently, the government has invited the private sector to grow the manufacturing sector through enhancing value addition, expanding of the manufacturing base, creation of skilled jobs and increasing foreign exchange revenue.