Zambia Moving Towards Mine Privatization

Zambia Moving Towards Mine Privatization

Zambia, Africa’s biggest copper producer, will likely reduce its 87.6 percent stake in the country’s mines to less than 50 percent in a move towards privatization, according to a Bloomberg report.

“We are not looking back, but looking forward and getting the mining houses totally into private hands,” Mines Minister Christopher Yaluma said Monday. “We have gone past nationalization and we are not going back.”

The cabinet will decide on the size of the divestment, he said.

ZCCM Investment Holdings currently holds minority stakes in the local units of Glencore Xstrata Plc (GLEN), First Quantum (FM) Minerals Ltd. and Vedanta Resources Plc (VED), following state asset sales that began in the 1990s, Bloomberg reports.

Zambia’s mines lost more than $1 million a day under government ownership, according to First Quantum, the country’s biggest copper producer. Output fell 65 percent from 1973 to 263,000 metric tons in 1997, according to chamber of mines figures, before rebounding to more than 800,000 tons in 2012, the report said.

ZCCM-IH plans to sell stock to existing shareholders to repay debt to the government and invest in new developments, the Lusaka-based company said. The government doesn’t intend to increase its ownership, it said.

Most minority shareholders own their stock through the NYSE Euronext in Paris, according to ZCCM-IH, which estimates the company’s asset value at $387 million, Bloomberg reports.