Zambian Miners Welcome Dropping of Planned Copper Import Duty

  • Copper import duty of 7.5% would have harmed Zambian smelters
  • Chamber of Mines commends state for helping keep mines open

Zambia’s decision to drop a proposed import duty for semi-processed copper materials will help stabilize smelters in Africa’s second-biggest producer of the metal, the Chamber of Mines said.

Finance Minister Felix Mutati’s announcement that the government will abandon plans to charge a 7.5 percent levy on copper concentrates from Jan. 1 is “reassuring,” said Talent Ng’andwe, the acting chief executive officer at the industry body. The chamber has yet to receive official communication on the matter, he said.

The group that represents the local units of Glencore Plc, Vedanta Resources Plc and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. had criticized the proposal, saying Zambian mines didn’t produce enough concentrates to feed its smelters and needed to import from operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The duty would make smelters unprofitable, it told a parliamentary committee last month.

“The Chamber of Mines welcomes this move,” Ng’andwe said Wednesday by e-mail. “The year 2016 has not been a good year for the mining sector and government must be commended for striving to make the mining sector stay afloat.”

Mutati told lawmakers earlier Wednesday that the government would scrap the proposed import duty, Reuters reported. Concentrates are a mixture of crushed rock that contains about 40 percent copper, which is then smelted to increase the metal content to above 90 percent. Congo is Africa’s biggest producer of copper, used in electrical wiring and plumbing.

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