The Emeralds and Semi-Precious Stones Mining Association of Zambia (ESMAZ) has called upon the Zambian government to consider having shares in some of the precious stone mines across the country.
Speaking in an interview with Lusaka Star, ESMAZ President Victor Kalesha, said Zambia is endowed with rich mineral resources such as Copper, Cobalt, Gold, Lithium, Manganese, emeralds among others, but have very little to show in terms of benefits to the nation.
Mr. Kalesha said that Africa needs to wake up and claim back what belongs to them for the benefit of its people.
“I come from Lufwanyama and I am proud to be Lamba, but unfortunately Lufwanyama remains as one of the least developed districts or the one poorest in Zambia yet it is host to the world’s emerald giant Kagem mining Limited,” he said.
He added that the Zambian government should start the process of retrieving some of the shares from Gemfields in Kagem so as to become equal shareholders or subdivide it and give to other competitors so as to create more jobs and much desired wealth for the nation.
“Until today I do not understand how the country ended up having minority shares in an asset that has the cream of the Zambian emeralds,” he wondered.
Mr. Kalesha said it is high time that the mineral resources started benefitting the host communities and called on chiefs in Lufwanyama to unite and claim for what is rightfully theirs.
He also appealed to the Members of Parliament to move a motion in parliament to retrieve shares in Kagem or subdivide it as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, a Mines Expert Edward Simukonda said poor government management is what is causing the negligence of small scale miners in the country.
Mr. Simukonda said that there should be a special budget dedicated to small scale miners which will help them to be more productive.
He added that the system needs to be changed where mine experts can be included in decision making because the mining sector is being managed by politicians, stating that they know nothing about mining.
“The other challenge is that local banks have no people that know about the mining sector which is challenging in terms of understanding the mining world,” he complained.
He therefore called on relevant authorities to start training local miners on how they can make money out of the local mines by making them register as local miners unlike government taking over and labelling them as illegal miners.