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Zambia will enforce copper import tax - mining minister

Mon 4th February, 2019 2:47pm
* Minister talking to mining executives about individual
    * Says Zambia must benefit from processing costs
    * Says happy with maximum of 20 percent Zambian ownership

    By Barbara Lewis
    CAPE TOWN, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Zambia is determined to enforce
a new 5 percent copper import duty, as part of a plan to keep a
greater share of mineral resource profits for the country and
tackle its debt, Mining Minister Richard Musukwa said.
    Musukwa was speaking on the sidelines of the Indaba mining
conference in Cape Town, where government ministers and mining
executives are debating how to attract investment and how to
strike the right balance between resource-holding governments
and foreign companies.
    Vedanta  VDAN.BS  has said it would suspend operations in
Zambia, although the minister said it had yet to do so, while
Barrick has said it is exploring options for its Zambian copper
mine.*:nL8N1WE5RK*:nL8N1YQ2H0*:nL1N1ZL0WL Vedanta declined to
comment on Monday. 
    Musukwa said he was open to dialogue with the international
miners and Zambia, Africa's second-biggest copper producer,
would remain a stable investment regime with no plans to
increase state ownership.
    "We appreciate that the investors are bringing in resources.
They are bringing in expertise. We keep a small percentage for
checks and balances and currently it sits around 15 to 20
percent. We have no plans to increase beyond those measures," he
told Reuters in an interview.
    The new taxes, which also include a royalty on copper
production that increases as commodity prices rise, were
"well-thought-out and logically calculated with the inputs of
stakeholders, even the mining companies", he said.
    Most miners had accepted them, he said, but he was talking
to mining executives, including the CEO of Barrick, in Cape Town
about some of their concerns.
    "The government is open for discussion. These taxes are not
meant to be one size fits all," he said, while saying he was
determined to stick with a tax on imported copper concentrate
produced from rough ore.
    "As we see it, the government is resolved that mining houses
have to pay for that," he said, referring to the 5 percent
import levy.
    "They don't need to import. They must develop their
licences. They must employ our people and improve our economic
    Mark Bristow, CEO of Barrick Gold Corp  ABX.TO , told
reporters in Cape Town the new taxes had put its Zambian copper
mine "under pressure". 
    "Zambia should be a preferred place for investors to go and
mine copper," he said. 

 (Editing by Louise Heavens and Dale Hudson)
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