The global interest could be attributed to the country’s mining legislation, which he said was conducive to exploration and investment.
Speaking at the inaugural Zambian International Mining and Energy Conference in Lusaka, Chipwende pointed out that First Quantum had committed to invest over $1-billion in the Trident copper mine and smelter project and that Metorex, which operates the Chibuluma mine, had attracted a takeover from Brazilian major Vale.
According to the 2010/11 Fraser Institute Survey, Zambia ranks 57 out of 79 jurisdictions within the policy potential index, which serves as a scorecard to show how managers view a jurisdiction. This is ten positions above South Africa, which ranked 67.
Diversified resources group BHP Billiton sees Zambia as an important part of its global copper exploration programme, minerals exploration president Ian Maxwell told delegates at the conference.
He said BHP was “on a mission” to find giant projects worthy of billion-dollar investment, which would have a life-of-mine of between 20 and 30 years.
“What BHP is looking for is large, long-life, low-cost assets, which exist in transparent markets in order to continue the growth of its resource base,” said Maxwell.
The company has been involved in the development of the Mumbwa iron-oxide, copper and gold project through a joint venture with Australian junior Blackthorn Resources. BHP withdrew from the project last month, as it did not fit its profile, but has retained a 2% royalty share in Mumbwa.
Maxwell reported that BHP was involved in a number of other exploration projects in Zambia.
“Future expansion programmes of BHP will be greenfield geared and copper specific with the intention of capitalising on the current shifting of the world’s macro-economical and geopolitical focus towards Asia,” he stated.