President Hakainde Hichilema inaugurated the Enterprise nickel mine in Kalumbila this week, marking the official start of ZAMBIA’s road toward becoming a significant player in the emerging global electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem.
The mine owned by First Quantum Minerals will generate the most of the crucial metal in Africa once it is operational. Like lithium, cobalt, and copper, nickel is a crucial component of the batteries needed for the new generation of “green” cars.
Enterprise is planned to process 4 million tonnes of ore and produce about 28,000 tonnes of nickel annually, creating 700 permanent employment and making Zambia the continent’s and the world’s 10th-largest producer of the highly sought-after material.
“I would like to thank First Quantum for the decision to invest $1.35bn in the expansion of Kansanshi…and to raise additional capital for Enterprise,” said President Hichilema at the ground breaking ceremony for the mine.
“This investment, $1.3bn, will deliver direct and indirect jobs, somewhere in the region of 18,000; and in this country, colleagues, one job supports 10 other members of the family in the house or extended. So if you do your numbers correctly, 18,000 by 10, it’s 180,000 people benefitting. That is where the value sits. So thank you First Quantum,” he added.
“This project will contribute to raising treasury income that we as a prudent government, part of which income we will use to buy a desk for a child who is sitting on the floor today, munokumvwa mwane?
“This [nickel] is the future of our country, to a large extent. This is where this country must go and they must explore these resources sustainably and deliver value for our people,” he said.
“And we are fortunate as a country to host a fair share of these minerals. But if they stay in the ground, we don’t arrange projects like these, we don’t unlock projects like these we will not be able to play our part in keeping our world cleaner and reduce the environmental damage whose consequences we know very well,” he continued.
At this year’s Mining Indaba, where President Hichilema welcomed the investment and reaffirmed his desire to see more collaborations like these that would turn Zambia into a hub for development and secure the country’s place in the electric vehicle (EV) battery ecosystem, FQM announced the company’s US$100 million investment into the project less than three months ago.
After being finished in 2016 and receiving environmental permission, the nickel processing plant has been in care and maintenance since then, waiting for favorable market conditions.
The time is now ideal for the nickel operation to start up because of the push for a transition to green energy on a worldwide scale, the increasing demand for metals like nickel that are necessary for the change, and a new, advantageous mining regime.
Tristan Pascall, CEO of FQM, remarked during the groundbreaking ceremony: “If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that stability is crucial. The effort Zambia has made to preserve such peace and stability as one of the major stakeholders in a sector where geopolitical security is crucial is well recognized. Zambia is undoubtedly one of our top investment destinations.
“With over a quarter century of experience under our belt, we appreciate the importance of working hand-in-hand with stakeholders and aligning with government mandates. Soon to become our third operation here, Enterprise project is in our books, a vote of confidence from – and for – the Zambian government and the Zambian people. It is a vote of confidence in our continued transparency, responsibility, and operational excellence.”
“We have been ready to make such an investment for a long time but have been waiting for the conditions to be right, both in terms of the country’s mining policy and the global mineral market.”
Utilizing Zambia’s favorable business environment to expand and diversify the mining industry is President Hichilema’s top aim. He has frequently described himself as the nation’s chief marketing officer.
“The new administration’s assurance of a more stable, transparent investment environment that will be intolerant to corruption and governed by environmental, social and governance best practices was the nudge of encouragement we needed for this new project,” said FQM Zambia Country Manager General Kingsley Chinkuli.
The President has secured more jobs, more money, and more chances for residents to gain from local procurement spending and corporate social investment with the launch of this new enterprise.
In addition to reducing Zambia’s reliance on copper, this move to secure its share of the EV battery market will also open up new prospects for business and innovation along the nickel value chain.