Skills development necessity to prepare youths’ mining future – Mutati

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Government has committed to enhance collaboration to establish skills development centers to sustain the future of mining.

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Technology and Science Minister Felix Mutati said this while visiting Barrick Lumwana mine, a major copper producer in the country based in Northwestern Zambia that this would
mold the raw potential of Zambian youth into the architects of a thriving mining industry.

Barrick Lumwana announced on Saturday of a $2 billion investment to expand its operations and boost production in line with the government’s vision of increased copper output.

Mutati commended the project, highlighting its potential to create jobs and contribute to the national economy.

“We are fairly excited by the $2 billion investment that Lumwana plants.
And we believe this will be a key component to realizing our vision that in 10 years’ time, we should be able to deliver 3 million tons of copper as a country,” added Mutati.

He however emphasized the need for local skills development and urged the mine to collaborate with the government in establishing a skills training center within Lumwana.

“But in order to assure sustainability, we think you and us can begin to work together. and put up a skills training center within Lumwana. So that we can prepare the youth for the future of mining,” the Minister said.

Mutati said once partnership between government and Lumwana of building a skills training center, is put together, particularly in view of the $2 billion investment planned it will find a competent level of local skills.

Lumwana mine plans to invest $2 billion in expanding its operations, aiming to increase copper production and contribute to Zambia’s national goals.

According to the Mine’s Sustainability manager, Christopher Mukala, the mine currently spends $472 million annually with locally registered businesses, demonstrating its commitment to supporting Zambian companies.

He added that Lumwana actively engaged with its host communities through various initiatives, including building a high school, supporting traditional ceremonies, and establishing a community development committee.

Muakal said Lumwana aimed at increasing its local procurement spending and is working with SMEs through a business accelerator programme to build their capacity.

But the minsiter requested more engagement with SMEs from the company as 15 highlighted was not not good enough.

Further, 99 percent of Lumwana’s workforce are Zambian nationals, and the mine actively promotes female participation with 12% of employees being women.

The company’s general manager, Herbert Cawood and Human Resouce Manager Kasonde Musonda told the Minister that they are revamping training centers and plans to launch an apprenticeship programme with 100 apprentices this year.

Additionally, the mine is also exploring the possibility of establishing a regional skills training center.

By Moses Makwaya

Kalemba February 4, 2024

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