Higher mining ownership?

From Zambian Economist Tue Feb 19 2013, 05:00:00

ZCCM-IH is pushing for higher dividends from its investments in Zambian subsidiaries of Vedanta Resources (Mopani) and Glencore International (Konkola), among others . The government owned investment arm also wants to negotiate increased stakes in local mines, though talks have to commence, according to the ZCCM-IH CEO, "Clearly, it is a matter that keeps coming up regarding the level of shareholding that we should have...It is something that we will have to deal with at some point."

Government has maintained minority stakes ranging from 10 percent to 21 percent in some mining companies, which it holds through ZCCM-IH. It wants the companies in which it has shareholdings to alter their dividend policies to improve transparency and increase payouts. At present dividends are the last priority for some companies, which has led to little benefit to country.

The new ZCCM-IH policy will also focus on buying stakes of as much as 35 percent in new mining projects, such as Nava Bharat Pte Ltd.'s Maamba Collieries. It also wants to boost ownership of existing operations, though this will clearly depend on how well it will negotiate. Government has no intention of any compulsory acquisition, because that is going backward.

We have previously flagged up the new ZCCM-IH policy framework. Private investors who own about 12% in ZCCM have been cautiously optimistic of how the ZCCM-IH has now got back on track. The Ministry of Mines must be commended for the good work for getting ZCCM-IH back on track. It is quite clear there's also renewed momentum to do more.

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