For 2 days The Garden Court Hotel in the city of Kitwe was the place to be for key players with an interest in the mining and energy industries of Zambia and the region. Nestled in the vibrant heart of Zambia’s Copperbelt region from the 1st to the 2nd of November the 11th Zambia International Mining and Energy Conference and Exhibition (ZIMEC) showcased why there is growing optimism and confidence in Zambia as a top African and global mining investment destination.  Held under the High Patronage of The President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Hakainde Hichilema, the event is the largest and most established mining and energy industry event in the country.  ZIMEC 2023 was headlined by Zambia’s Minister of Mines and Minerals Development, Honourable Paul Kabuswe who officially opened the conference and exhibition on behalf of the President.

Setting the tone for the conference, His Excellency President Hichilema in remarks read on his behalf by Minister Kabuswe, began by endorsing the conference theme “Investing in Zambia, Mine to Market, Clean Energy and the Sustainable Development of Future Minerals”,  saying, “This year’s theme acknowledges the importance of building our mining and energy sectors through the promotion and development of local value-added manufacturing that is competitively integrated into global value and supply chains.” He re-affirmed his administration’s support for expanded mineral exploration through increased public investment, as recently announced in the national budget, towards a high-resolution geophysical survey in six of the country’s provinces and several key mineral tax reforms and incentives. The President underpinned the indispensable role of expanded energy infrastructure to support mineral output growth and broader social and economic development stating, “Government will not falter in its determination to grow the energy sector so that Zambians can get guaranteed universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy, we also endeavour to become a net exporter of energy in central and southern Africa.” He concluded his remarks by vowing to continue with his government’s investor-friendly reforms.

Other key speakers chimed in with the event theme and the President’s message. Minister Kabuswe shared his own sentiments calling for business investments in the country to benefit Zambians stating, “What this government wants now is not to boast of large investments but for them to reflect on the improved livelihoods of our people.” He cited the multi-billion dollar investments from large mining companies like First Quantum and Barrick Lumwana as well as the expected new investments into Konkola Copper Mines and Mopani Copper Mines among others, as examples of the government’s commitment to revamping the sector. His cabinet colleagues, Information and Media Minister Cornelius Mweetwa and Energy Minister Peter Kapala who was represented by Ministry Director Mwape Chipala, both emphasized the government’s commitment to building a predictable, secure, and attractive investment climate. The UK High Commissioner to Zambia H.E. Nicholas Woolley expressed the UK’s commitment to deepen its partnership with Zambia saying, “The UK’s critical minerals strategy outlines our ambitions to work with other countries such as Zambia to strengthen trading, diplomatic relations and efforts to make supply chains more diverse, transparent, responsible and resilient.” The DRC Ambassador to Zambia H.E. Didier Serge Tepupileka Bapaga also touted his country’s and Zambia’s Electric Vehicle Battery Manufacturing Partnership as a game changer and a model for the future. Headline sponsors Barrick Lumwana represented by Country Manager Anthony Malenga and BT Industrial Group represented by Managing Director Kgomotso Lekola both made commitments to further invest in Zambia.

With a new record of more than 500 participants from more than 20 countries representing every continent, delegates benefitted from valuable opportunities to network, form partnerships and draw vital insights on the country’s dynamic investment landscape through discussions among leading industry stakeholders exploring opportunities for the sustainable development of the mining and energy sectors in Zambia and the region. Discussions kicked off with a Regional Cooperation Roundtable on Optimising the Mine to Market Value Chain to Support the Energy Transition & Sustainable Development in The Region Over the Next Decade. Regional and multilateral representatives from the African Union, the European Union, the DRC, and Zambia outlined the progress being made through cooperation and the many opportunities and models to enhance this going forward. The flagship session on Mining which focussed on Updates and Strategies Towards The 3 million Metric Tonnes Per Annum Copper Production Target saw the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines Dr Hapenga Kabeta affirming that while challenging the target is still achievable with the right level of cross sectoral commitment. Senior mining executives on the panel representing Barrick Lumwana Mining Company, Mopani Copper Mines and the Zambia Chamber of Mines outlined plans to boost production in the sector. Other mining-focused sessions touched on expanding and accelerating mineral exploration, financing the mining value chain, technology, and infrastructure enablers for mining as well as the supply of clean energy to mines, all serving to demonstrate the immense opportunities in Zambia and the region.

The flagship energy session covering the energy transition and how to fund its acceleration saw senior finance executives from Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic Bank, and representation from the World Bank pledging to ramp up financial support for clean energy projects in the country. The petroleum sector players also spoke about their decarbonisation aspirations during a session on Zambia’s downstream petroleum sector and its role in the national energy mix with a healthy debate on the suitability of biofuels as well as the need for overall investment in the downstream sector. The conference closed with a cross-cutting look at the opportunities for value creation and industrialisation as well as the critical role of innovation in meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals in the mining and energy sectors. Several key national and international institutions were represented this year which added to the wealth of engagements and exchanges. These included the Ambassadors to  Zambia representing Finland, Tanzania and Trinidad and Tobago, key national institutions Energy Regulation Board, Zambia Revenue Authority, Zambia Development Agency, ZESCO, the Zambia Electric Vehicle Battery Council and international organisations the UK Department for Business and Trade, Trade and Development Bank, Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, African Refiners and Distributors Association, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, SADC Women in Mining and the United Nations Development Programme among others.

The hugely successful event had an expanded array of good networking opportunities with a regal gala dinner on the opening evening proudly sponsored by BT Industrial Group and an exciting closing cocktail reception which was graciously supported by Barrick Lumwana Mining Company. Other proud sponsors and partners of the 2023 edition included Copperbelt Energy, China Pavilion, Lubambe Copper Mine, Minesense, Mopani Copper Mines, Tanzania Ports Authority, GoviEx Uranium Zambia, Vivo Energy Zambia, Radai/Zanifi, Jinko Solar, ATIDI, FNB Bank, KoBold Metals, Konkola Copper Mines, Stanbic Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Puma Energy, Zambia Chamber of Mines, Kitwe and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, BRGM the French Geological Survey, Progress Medical Centre, Nortec, Copperbelt University and the Association of Zambian Mineral Exploration Companies.

For more information about the conference, please visit https://zimeczambia.com/.