Metals and mining company First Quantum Minerals (FQM) is “determined” in its mission to increase local content across its mining operations.
The mining firm has backed Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema’s appeal to industry players to “step up” and exercise holistic and prudent management of resources while fostering partnerships that can boost the country’s productivity in a sustainable manner that stands to benefit local communities as well.
Speaking during the Zambia Association of Manufacturers’ (ZAM’s) Conference, FQM government relations specialist and Zambia Chamber of Mines (ZCM) presiding president Dr Godwin Beene said that the economic sectors and business communities performed better when all industry players worked in synergy, supporting each other in seeking to create environments that not only boosted activities but above all attracted investors.
Speaking at the event, FQM subsidiary Kansanshi Mining public relations manager Godfrey Msiska highlighted the programmes undertaken to include more Zambian businesses in the mine’s supply chain and to encourage the emergence of nontraditional industries in its areas of operation.
Among its key strategies is the engagement of industry institutions, such as ZAM and the North-Western Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to improve the skills, capabilities and quality of goods and services produced by local manufacturers.
“We sat down with ZAM members as our partners and developed a strategic plan on how suppliers can up their game, and this collaboration is starting to actually crystalise into increased business opportunities,” said Msiska, who also referenced the challenges hampering local businesses including inadequate knowledge on tendering processes.
FQM’s Kansanshi Mining and Kalumbila Minerals recorded a combined yearly spend of $4.48-billion for 2018 to 2020, representing more than 80% of its overall spending.
In 2020, 46% of the mill balls consumed by its Kansanshi mine were produced in Zambia. The mine is currently targeting an increase to 90%, with a resultant increase in local spend of around $9-million a year.
FQM is an offtaker for locally available products such as sand, silica and lime. Other products sourced include electrical equipment, hardware, cement, safety, signage, motor vehicle spares and work suits.
The mining firm is also in the process of testing safety boots by personal protective equipment and footwear manufacturers Zamleather and BATA Zambia and has obtained samples of work suits from another local manufacturer.
FQM’s shared-value approach to community development seeks to ensure that communities in its areas of operation continue to prosper long after its mine has ceased production.
In addition to creating employment, FQM offers its workers training opportunities for further skills training, and at the trade schools, the company has also diversified the training programmes to not only focus on mechanical and electrical trades but encourage students to move into other areas such as administration. A total of 6 475 students have undergone training to date.
The company has introduced measures that help to provide employment opportunities to local community members through a local recruitment database of community members.
“It’s a win-win situation where we provide employment and the government is also able to earn back revenue and the local communities are able to benefit from robust corporate social responsibility programmes. “We shall continue to support the local communities because they are the ones that give us the social licence to operate,” noted Msiska.