FIRST Quantum Minerals has vowed to actively work towards sustainable, transparent and responsible economic and social development.

 The mine plans to do this by contributing to supply chain development and capacity building for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) within the communities surrounding its Sentinel Mine at Kalumbila in North-Western Province.

Head of government affairs John Gladston said the mining firm believes that SMEs play an important role in employment creation and economic growth but that entrepreneurs were faced with challenges during both the start-up and growth phase of their businesses, losing prospects available to them.

Mr Gladston said through the Trident Foundation in Kalumbila, the mining company was supporting initiatives that aim to improve the skills of local business owners and increase the capacity of businesses to provide competitive and high-quality supplies and services not just to the mine, but other sectors of the economy.

He said in 2017, the Trident Foundation trained 83 local businesses from Musele chiefdom.

He said the candidates were selected from a grassroots roadshow with Musele Chamber of Commerce, offering business formalisation, training and selected micro-loans to local entrepreneurs of which interested business owners had to show commitment by registering their enterprises with the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) as a precondition for training and micro-loans.

He stated that local business development had long been a priority at FQM, adding that there was a lot of potential for Zambian businesses to thrive.

“But to maximise the opportunities concerted effort are required from all sectors,” he added.

He said through the KML commercial department, the mining firm will progressively identify and buy from qualified and competitive local suppliers and contractors.

“It must be emphasised that KML will not compromise on quality, competitiveness, delivery, service, safety, the environment, or any other technical requirements,” he said.

He said local business development is one of KML’s priorities, and in July 2017 the company signed the local business development policy.

He noted that during the remainder of last year, KML’s commercial department and the Trident Foundation worked hard at putting the policy into action, and more is in store for the first quarter of 2018.

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