New copper development project to encourage local participation

14th September 2012 By: Zandile Mavuso - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features

The boom in Zambia’s copper industry has attracted a lot of foreign investment and has left local Zambian companies wanting a share of the projects to improve the country’s financial gain.

Toronto-based mining company First Quantum Minerals (FQM) and Zambia-based mining company Mimosa Resources announced a joint initiative on August 4 to develop the Fishtie copper project. This is expected to increase the participation of Zambians in the country’s mining industry, which is the top copper producer in Africa.

FQM and Mimosa will jointly advance the project, which is currently in the exploration stage, and aim to list it on the Lusaka Stock Exchange, subject to meeting the Securities & Exchange Commission rules.

“The two companies will jointly fast-track the development of the Fishtie copper project at Kashime, in the Mkushi district in Zambia’s Central province,” says FQM resident director Kwalela Lamaswala.

The company will set up a new Zambian holding company for the development of the mine, in which Mimosa’s ownership will be determined by its participation.

“We own the Fishtie concession 100% but Mimosa Resources will use its financial and tech- nical expertise to develop the mine and take up equity in Fishtie according to its input,” explains Lamaswala.

“Mimosa will need to complete several development milestones, including the release of a National Instrument 43-101-compliant resource statement and a bankable feasibility study for Fishtie,” he adds.

The Fishtie copper project is significant because it is the first and, until recently, the only new copper discovery that has obtained a mining licence since Zambia gained its independence in 1964, Lamaswala points out.

“The Fishtie mining licence covers an area of 224 km2 and allows for the mining of copper and cobalt,” he says, adding that the company’s preliminary exploration indicates that Fishtie has more than 500 000 t of contained copper.

Mimosa Resources executive chairperson Jordan Soko states that this partnership is a first for Zambia. “We believe it can become a model for resource development, as Fishtie has the economic and development potential to become an important copper project.

Aspirations for the Fishtie joint venture include not only development but also listing the project on the Lusaka Stock Exchange to provide additional Zambian share- holders with the opportunity to gain ownership of the country’s mineral resources.

The selection of Mimosa Resources by FQM as its partner was driven by the desire to fast-track the development of the project at Kashime, which it believes is a high-quality asset.

With its involvement in the Fishtie project, Mimosa Resources hopes to create a cadre of Zambians who will become excellent at project implementation.

The company expects more projects like Fishtie to become available for acquisition in Zambia and aims to establish a local project development team that can easily be deployed to the projects.

Soko says Mimosa Resources aims to emulate the success of FQM, which started from humble beginnings. “This can be assisted by government’s implementation of deliberate policy measures that trigger growth of small mining operations in Zambia,” he concludes.