By Abigail Chaponda in London, United Kingdom
Mines and Minerals Development Minister Hon. Richard Musukwa, yesterday held a meeting with UK Department for International Trade (DIT) Mining and Infrastructure Specialist Ros Lund, and DIT Head of Mining Team Mark Smith and discussed opportunities for Zambia-UK collaboration in various sectors including artisanal small scale mining.
The Minister said artisanal small-scale mining is essential for the country’s development especially in the eradication of poverty and government wants to empower women so that they are centre in participating and contributing to the country’s economic growth.
During a meeting that was attended ZCCM-IH Chief Executive Officer Mr. Mabvuto Chipeta, Charge D’ Affairs Mrs. Patricia Chanda, Counselor Economic Mr. Mukela Mutukwa and Counselor Political Mr. Mwendabai Mataa, the Minister reiterated President Lungu’s call to help women in small scale mining upscale their operations in order to contribute positively to the general economic growth of the country.
Mr. Musukwa said President Lungu wants to see how best the Zambian Government can help the local women to participate in the exploration of resources but that the women in mining were facing challenges such as, lack of access to affordable capital and equipment.
He said women in the mining sector were not able to exploit the resource potential that lies in the country because of lack of equipment to scale up the means of production beyond a shovel and a pike to increase production and enhance value of their raw products.
“Like you saw when you visited Zambia, most women in mining from Petauke, Vubwi and Lufunsa are basically using hand tools to do their mining. We think our women especially those in mining can help fight poverty and bring household food security and enhance economic development but they need support and the support that they need is access to finance, and we think that with partners such as yourself, we must be able to build capacity in our women especially to do with equipment and resource so that their operation can make sense and also link them to credible markets that will have value for their operations that will ensure that their operation is safe and they are able to generate a living,” he said.
The Minister said His Excellency the President has been trying to look for way in which government can get finances using international support especially for women and small-scale miners.
And Mr. Mark Smith said DIT was able to facilitate access to its data base of companies who are involved in mining to help small scale miners access a wider value chain and that DIT was ready to work and assist Zambia.
In welcoming collaboration, the Minister extended an invitation for DIT to work closely with ZCCM-IH to find ways of empowering the artisanal women miners.