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Zambia’s Economic Recovery depends on the Mining Sector

Miners have called for a radical shake-up of the country’s mining sector, battered by the pandemic and a climate considered hostile to investors. In recent years, a hostile policy environment has led several foreign operators to flee the country, putting pressure on the sector that accounts for 75% of Zambia’s exports. With an election looming on August 12, and copper prices at a ten-year high, economic recovery for Africa’s second-largest copper producer hinges on ramping up production, mining companies say. Covid-19 ravaged the continent’s mining sector, disrupting operations as mines shuttered amid lockdowns and dampened demand. Last year a collapse in copper demand prompted one of the country’s biggest miners, Glencore, to suspend operations at its Mopani Copper Mine. The move sparked a backlash from Zambia’s government, which threatened to revoke the firm’s mining licences because it said Glencore did not give enough notice before suspending the mines. Hours later Zambian authorities arrested MCM’s CEO in Lusaka as he attempted to board a plane to Australia.  He was subsequently released. The move rattled foreign investors who fear the government is taking an increasingly hostile stance on international mining companies to shore up revenues.