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By JOHN SAKALA
The Emerald and Semi-Precious Stones Mining Association of Zambia (ESMAZ) says Grizzly and Kagem Mining have marketed Zambian Emeralds so well on the international market.
ESMAZ President Victor Kalesha said the small scale emerald miners commend Kagem Mining Limited and Grizzly mining that have marketed the emerald sector very well on the international market.
Mr Kalesha said it is easy for the sector to attract investment to the sector and create more job opportunities for the people of Lufwanyama and wealthy creation for the country at large.
“It has been very difficult to attract investment to the emerald sector because there was very little to show in terms of production and due to a lot of uncertainties attached to emerald mining sector. After the Copperbelt investment expo we have had a number of investors making inquiries of partnership in emerald mining.
“We would like to commend the two giant Emerald producing companies in Zambia for putting Zambian emeralds on the world market. What Kagem and Grizzly Mining have done to make the sector visible is a commendable job and we need to take advantage of that to attract investment for more mines to open in the emerald area,” he said.
He advised government to put modalities that will track emeralds from the miner to the market like it is done with the diamonds so that Zambia is able to account for its emeralds.
Mr Kalesha said the association will hold a conference with all emerald mining companies to agree on certification of all emeralds produced and exported out of Zambia.
“This will help cut down on smuggling emeralds out of the country and as such we will have more investors willing to invest other than buying smuggled emeralds. The opening of more mines will create more job opportunities for the people of Lufwanyama, especially youth that are suffering, taking loads of waste rock to chance emeralds to earn a livelihood in very difficult circumstances.
“We want the emerald sector to move the direction Grizzly and Kagem have taken so that their efforts to market the sector on the international market pays off in the long term. We expect as an association that in the next two years we will have at least 10 more mines joining in production zone from the current two. For the first time we heard the President in his address to parliament mention some figures coming from the emerald sector and that is basically from two mines, Grizzly Mining and Kagem mining. And if we have more investors coming in that means that more income for the country from the emerald sector,” he said.
However, Mr Kalesha said there is a challenge 15 per cent tax attached to colored gemstones.
He said the association would government to abolish the 15 per cent export tax because it is not friendly to the sector due to the already high cost of production attached to emerald mining.
“We think as an association that there is need to look at the bigger picture of attracting investment to the sector other than killing the sector with excessive taxes. Let’s not miss this opportunity to diversify the economy within the mining sector by creating more flexible and friendly taxes to the sector.
“With interactions that we have had with President Edgar Lungu, he has set a tone of flexibility to such issues in creating a win-win situation between government and stakeholders,” he said.