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Easing the Fears of Zambia’s Mining Firms

Zambia isn’t looking to take over more mining companies, nor is the government planning to nationalise the industry, according to finance minister Bwalya Ng’andu. The government has acquired Glencore and Vedanta’s local operations in the past two years. Remarks by President Edgar Lungu in December that Africa’s second-biggest copper producer wanted to take “significant stakes” in unspecified mines led to fears of a fresh wave of nationalisation. The minister’s comments may ease concerns among investors in companies including First Quantum Minerals and Barrick Gold, which operate the Southern African nation’s biggest copper mines. It also follows a series of clashes between mining companies and government over taxes, retrenchments and electricity pricing. Last century, Zambia had a painful experience with mine nationalisation, which bled the treasury and saw production plummet, ultimately leading to the state reversing the policy in the 1990s.