Zambia, Africa’s biggest copper producer, has suspended a 10 percent export tax on ores and concentrates for almost a year, according to a copy of the legislation.
Government halted the levy until September with effect from Oct. 4, when the statutory instrument signed by Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda is dated. The suspension, which applies to minerals including copper, nickel, zinc, lead, silver and uranium, comes after mining companies asked government to waive the tax because of a lack of local smelting capacity.
Zambia imposed the charge in November 2011 as the country sought to boost local industry. The tax made exporting copper concentrates less profitable, encouraging mines to use local smelters. Companies including First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM), Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX) and African Rainbow Minerals Ltd. (ARI) have operations in the country.
“African Rainbow Minerals approached the Zambian government asking for the 10 percent export tax to be waived and we are appreciative of the government granting it to us,” Jongisa Klaas, a spokeswoman for the Johannesburg-based company said in reply to e-mailed questions yesterday.
First Quantum Minerals also asked the government to end the levy, saying earlier this year it had a copper concentrate stockpile worth over $100 million it couldn’t process locally as smelters were full. The company also said the export charge threatened the Enterprise nickel mine it plans to build in the northwest of the country.
Neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo in July raised taxes on copper and cobalt concentrate exports by two-thirds as it plans to ban the practice next year. Much of the concentrates are processed by Zambian smelters.
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