LUSAKA/LONDON/TORONTO (Reuters) – Zambia has no plans to seize the assets of Quantum Minerals Ltd and the copper producer intends to stay in the country despite the government’s move to wrest control of a rival miner, government and industry sources told Reuters.
Canadian-listed First Quantum has looked on nervously as the Zambian government appointed a provisional liquidator to run Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), claiming KCM has breached the terms of its license.
The move has unnerved international miners concerned about rising resource nationalism in Zambia and neighboring countries.
First Quantum, scarred by having its operations in Democratic Republic of Congo seized in 2010, is embroiled in a dispute with the Zambian government after being handed a $5.8 billion bill last year for unpaid import duties. “The government will not touch First Quantum,” one source close to the government said. “Vedanta is very different from First Quantum.”
Among the international miners, First Quantum has the most to lose in Zambia, which accounts for 83% of production from the company’s operating assets this year, excluding a new project in Panama.