By DERRICK SILIMINA
Low deposits at Musakashi emerald mine and the lack of electricity have not deflated Pridegems Mines Ltd who are still pursuing their project situated in Mushindamo district of North-Western Province.
Pridegems’ Musakashi gemstone deposits are said to be among the relatively rare deposits given that geological conditions have permitted emerald occurrences in small quantities.
Pridegems Mines Ltd is a subsidiary of Grizzly Mining Ltd.
Speaking during a familiarization tour of the mine site situated in Senior Chief Mujimanzovu’s area on Saturday, Defence Minister Ambrose Lufuma said Government was pleased that mine management was determined to soldier on despite various operational challenges the mine is faced with including low deposits and lack of power connectivity to the national grid among others.
“I was struck when one of the managers here said right now the mine is not viable as the quality is not that good and quantity also leaves much to be desired. However, despite that, the mining conglomerate and management here wants to soldier on because they think there is potential and that potential is what we would like as Government to encourage you to exploit,” Lufuma said.
The Cabinet minister who is also Kabompo Member of Parliament highlighted that local people must always benefit from their own God-given resources.
He further praised the mining giant that despite its challenges, management is doing everything possible to enhance its corporate social responsibility in the area it operates from.
“I have heard that you spend K500,000 every month to maintain the Kalengwa Road which is a good start and which should be applauded and encouraged. I have heard also what you are doing in terms of the health campaigns here on HIV/AIDS, and Covid-19 awareness among others you are doing and I would like to commend you for that,” he said.
Lufuma who led a delegation including Senior Chief Mujimanzovu of the Kaonde people, Cabint ministers and Members of Parliaments from the Coalition of African Parliamentarians against HIV/Aids (CAPA) stated that Government looks forward to have the resources exploited to the benefits of Zambians.
CAPA lawmakers in Lufuma’s entourage included Shang’ombo constituency MP Mubika Mubika, Lufwanyama constituency MP Kennny Siachisumo and his Mangango counterpart Mwene Luhamba.
Others were Maureen Mabonga representing Mfuwe constituency, and CAPA founder member and former Mitete constituency lawmaker Grace Njapau and senior government officials from North-Western Province.
Speaking at the same event, Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Paul Kabuswe called on mine investors to strike a win-win situation with miners and local people in general in a bid to enhance trust among all stakeholders in the sector.
Kabuswe who is also Chililabombwe area MP affirmed that the New Dawn Government would give mine investors predictability in the economy and a stable fiscal regime.
“But what we are saying is that as we give you what you are demanding as investors, take care of our people and take care of the economy by giving the right contributions to the treasury. Sometimes mine investors think that just because you have a contract with Government by paying all taxes then you are good to go. You can only be good to go if the people on the ground accept your mining project,” Kabuswe noted.
In his presentation, Pridegems Manager Operations and Mining Compliance Joseph Manyepa said after exploration activities at the mine site commenced in 2017 the venture has been operational since then. Drilling activities have recently taken centre stage and a total of more than K9.5 million has been spent on the drilling activities thus far.
Manyepa further noted that due to the depleting productive lateritic soils, Pridegems sought to extend life of the mine by applying for alterations to increase the mining area from 23 hectares to 396 hectares.
“The license was granted to us this year (2021) to enable us embark on a robust exploration programme within this area. At the same time, a plan to go deeper in the mining has been established and this has so far attracted blasting costs as well as increased wear on equipment thereby leading to increased component replacement through maintenance costs,” he stated.
In terms of open-pit operations, Manyepa said, “We have had a target of moving at least 4,500 tonnes of material per day at an estimated fuel consumption of 0.44 litres per tonne which translates to 135,000 litres per month and about 60,000 litres of fuel every month on mining operations alone.”
And Grizzly Mining Ltd has applauded the Government and members of Parliament and CAPA for their successful tour of the Musakashi mine project.
Speaking when he welcomed the delegation, Grizzly Group of Companies Chairman Abdoul Ba expressed gratitude for the exclusive visit by senior government officials under the New Dawn administration.
“This is the first time that we have received such a high-powered delegation from the inception of Grizzly Group of Companies. I therefore would like to thank you most sincerely for taking time off your busy schedule to visit us as your first contact to come and learn operations of an emerald mine,” Ba said.
Noting that the tour had exposed lawmakers and senior government officials to the uniqueness and challenges of the emerald sector in the country, Ba said Grizzly Mining was ready to work with the current administration and looked forward to having the resources exploited to the benefit of Zambians and towards a greater Zambia.
“With this New Dawn Government, Grizzly Mining looks forward to helping the Government in poverty reduction by reducing unemployment through its employment policies of recruiting from local communities and through our various corporate social responsibilities,” Ba affirmed.
In her vote of thanks remarks, Grizzly Mining General Manager Caroline Sampa described Government’s high-powered delegation to the Grizzly mine site as a humbling experience.
“It’s a humbling experience in the sense that in the New Dawn Administration, our mine is the first to be visited by senior Government officials and we look forward to more of such engagements since we are partners in national development,” Sampa stated.