Zambia lacks capacity to monitor mining operations in the mineral-rich southern African country, making it difficult to quantify the exact production, the Post of Zambia reported on Monday.
Citing Deputy Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Richard Musukwa, the report said it is for this reason that the government has come up with new policy measures between 2014-2016 for mine technical audits and the monitoring of the gemstone sector.
"Government has insufficient capacity for monitoring the mining industry in the country. As a result, we have no reliable production statistics database, making it difficult to verify production costs and sales data declared by the mines as a basis for royalty and tax computations.
"Government will begin conducting mine technical audits to ensure that current taxes and mineral royalty are correct," he told the newspaper.
According to the official, the gemstone sector has for a long time been neglected, hence its insignificant contribution to government revenue. The gemstone sector, he said, has so much potential to contribute significantly to the country's revenue if it was properly monitored.
He revealed that the government would also start geological and structural mapping to facilitate development of both small and large-scale mines, adding that lack of geological information not only hinders investment but also makes it difficult for the government to get a fair deal from the concessions in the sector. Although mining accounts for 70 percent of Zambia's foreign exchange earnings, the sector only contributes about 10 percent to the GDP and less than 3 percent to the country's tax regime. Early this year, the government banned auctioning of emeralds from outside the country, saying it wanted the auction to be conducted locally in order to get a fair share. So far two local auctioning of emeralds have been conducted this year.