LUSAKA, April 22 (Reuters) - The Zambia Chamber of Mines has urged the government to urgently engage with the sector and agree relief measures to address the issues facing mining companies in the midst of COVID-19.
The chamber said in a statement it had submitted a broad three-phase economic plan to the government, to urgently manage the economic impact arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Since then all mining industry stakeholders have been hoping that some significant stimulus measures would be instituted, as is being seen across the world,” it said.
This proposal included immediate relief measures that could be followed by an emergency support package whose financing could be sought from the IMF and World Bank, the chamber said.
“This was with a view to providing some guidance to government on the critical areas to be urgently addressed,” the statement said.
The proposal also included the implementation of a “fight back” fiscal regime once the COVID-19 pandemic had abated and investment was needed to rebuild the economy, it said.
The IMF last week forecast Zambia’s economy will contract by 3.5% in 2020, from growth of 1.5% in 2019, as coronavirus hits economies across the world. Zambia’s economic activity has also been hampered by widespread power shortages.
Tax relief measures announced such as the suspension of import duties on concentrates and export duties on precious metals were a welcome first step but were yet to be introduced, it said.
The industry’s circumstances had become very desperate and the issues at Glencore’s Mopani Copper Mines were an example of this distress, the chamber said.
Glencore will reverse its earlier decision to shutter its Zambia subsidiary Mopani if it reaches an agreement with the Zambian government, the company said on Monday. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by David Evans)