March 13, 2003

Discussion on sale of Zambian mines

Zambian government will soon introduce a comprehensive agreement that will protect the mines in the country from private investors who will pull out at will without considering the impact of such action on Zambia.

Finance and National Planning Minister Emmanuel Kasonde said this at Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka on Tuesday, March 11, during a discussion organised by the Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ). The discussion was on the sale of Roan Antelope Mining Corporation of Zambia (RAMCZ) to J and W Investment Group of Switzerland. Mr Kasonde said Government would engage professional lawyers to make a comprehensive agreement which would protect the mines and the public interest in case investors decided to pull out freely. The Finance minister said

Government would not sign any agreement on the selling of mines without the approval of the lawyers and other stakeholders. "The agreement will be made in such a way that the country will not lose out in any way once the investors decide to pull out of the mining operations," he said. Mr Kasonde added that one of Government's interest to select J and W Investment Group to buy RAMCZ was because of the firm's connections with the Afron and Bertman Mining Company of South Africa. Government was interested in Bertman because its main line of experience was the processing of coal, which Mr Kasonde stressed, would make it easier to find partners for Maamba Collieries. Mr Kasonde said soon after the Roan mine was sold, Government would concentrate on the selling of Maamba which he said would be a much easier task because of its rich coal. He said Government had already received bids from two companies interested in Maamba Collieries and applications were still being studied.

Mr Kasonde refuted claims that the J and W Investment Group were one and the same people with the former Binani Group of Companies who had bought the Roan mine earlier. He said J and W were a subsidiary of Afron and Bertman Mining Company of South Africa, with sound experience in mining. Mr Kasonde said the suspicions were being raised that one of the managers at Afron used to work for a director of Binani Group of Companies. But participants at the discussion insisted that J and W Investment Group were the same people from the Binani Group of Companies coming under a different name. A number of participants said they had conducted research on the internet and on the London Stock Exchange and other major stock exchanges and J and W Investment was not appearing on any of them (The Times of Zambia, Ndola)

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