– First Quantum Minerals (FQM) is determined and motivated in its mission to increase local content across its mining operations.
The mining firm has backed President Hakainde Hichilema’s appeal to industry players to step up and exercise holistic and prudent management of resources as well as foster partnerships that can boost the country’s productivity in a sustainable manner that stands to benefit local communities as well.
Speaking during the Zambia Association of Manufacturers’ Conference opened by President Hichilema, FQM’s Government Relations Specialist and presiding Zambia Chamber of Mines (ZCM) President Dr. Godwin Beene said: “The economic sectors and business communities perform better when we work in synergy, supporting each other in seeking to create environments that not only boost our activities but above all attract investors, make these investors stay and continue to invest.”
Speaking at the same event, FQM Public Relations Manager for Kansanshi Mining Plc Godfrey Msiska went on to highlight the programmes undertaken by the mining firm in its drive to include more Zambian businesses in the mines supply chain as well as encourage the emergence of non-traditional industries outside the mining sector in its areas of operation.
Among its key strategies is the engagement of industry institutions such as ZAM and the North-Western Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NWCCI) to improve the skills, capabilities and quality of goods and services produced by local manufacturers.
“We sit down with ZAM members as our partners and come up with a strategic plan on how, suppliers can up their game, and this is starting to manifest that this collaboration can actually crystalize into increased business opportunities. So we shall continue on that path of training suppliers and manufacturers,” said Mr Msiska in reference to the challenges that hampered local businesses such as inadequate knowledge on tendering processes as well as improving quality and efficiencies in their delivery of various goods and services.
FQM’s Kansanshi Mining and Kalumbila Minerals recorded a combined local annual spend of US$4.48 billion for 2018-2020, representing more than 80 percent of its overall spending.
In 2020 46 percent of the mill balls consumed by its Kansanshi mine were produced in Zambia. The mine is currently targeting to increase this to 90 percent, with a resultant increase in local spend of around $9 million per annum.
FQM is an off-taker for locally available products like sand, silica, and lime, all key materials in its mining process. Other products sourced include electrical, hardware, cement, safety, signage, motor vehicle spares and work suits.
The mining firm is also in the process of testing safety boots by PPE and footwear manufacturers Zamleather Limited and BATA Zambia and has obtained samples of work suits from another local manufacturer.
FQM’s ‘shared value approach to community development seeks to ensure that communities in its areas of operation continue to prosper long after its mine has ceased production.
In addition to creating employment, First Quantum offers its workers training opportunities for further skills training. And at the trades schools, the company has also diversified the training programs to not only focus on mechanical and electrical trades but encourage students to move into other areas such as administration and occupational health and safety. A total of 6,475 students have undergone training to date.
FQM continues to be an equal opportunity employer and embraces Zambia’s diversity. The company has put in place measures that help to provide suitable employment opportunities to local community members through a local recruitment database of community members established with traditional leaders, and a local baseline census.
“First Quantum Minerals is here to stay. We are doing a lot of exploration and mining development to prolong the life of the mine and for as long as we are here, we shall continue to work with the government of the day, support the local communities in the areas where we operate, because Zambia has been good to FQM but we also believe strongly that FQM is good for Zambia. So it’s a win-win situation where we provide employment and the government is also able to earn back some revenue in form of tax and the local communities are able to benefit from robust corporate social responsibility programmes which are over and above the taxes which we pay. We shall continue to support the local communities because they are the ones that give us the social license to operate,” noted Mr Msiska.