Reuters reports that Zambia will next month cancel licences awarded to foreign copper mining companies that have not met the seven-year deadline to start prospecting or mining in areas rich in minerals, a minister said on Monday.
Mines and Minerals Development Minister Kalombo Mwansa also said the government would not scrap plans for new mining taxes set for April, despite criticism from some foreign investors.
"We will repossess the licences awarded to investors who have not carried out any development and this is without exception," Mwansa told Reuters in an interview.
Mwansa said the government had extended its initial Dec. 31, deadline to end-March to allow foreign mines more time to start developing the areas for which they hold mining permits.
Under Zambian law, foreign investors are allowed seven years to prospect and develop copper and cobalt mines after being awarded licences, but the government says some investors have breached the law.
"The government wants to award the licences to other investors and we are encouraging Zambians to apply for licences and source funds to develop the mines. The exercise will commence after 31 March," Mwansa said.
The government would introduce a new property register system in April to boost copper and cobalt mining by allowing other investors to join those already mining copper and cobalt, the country's economic lifeblood.
"At the same time the ministry (of mines) will resume receipt of new applications for all types of mining rights, including small scale mining."