Zambian chamber urges gov't to speed up tax refunds for miners

Zambian chamber urges gov't to speed up tax refunds for miners

The Chamber of Mines of Zambia, Africa's second largest copper producer, is calling the government to speed up refunds of withheld value-added tax (VAT) following a decision earlier this month to stop requiring mining companies to produce import certificates from destination countries.

The regulation, which came into force last year, blocked miners operating in the country from claiming refunds on value-added tax payments.

According to the chamber mining companies had been meeting all the government requirements, yet refunds seem to be taking a long time to come to them.

The business group noted the sector must be nurtured to generate the revenues needed for the country’s economic diversification, Lusaka Times reports.

Finance minister Alexander Chikwanda said last month the government had decided to relax the rule because it proved very hard to implement, mainly because it involved documentation from importers outside the country's jurisdiction.

Outstanding refunds, estimated to exceed $600 million, should be paid within a year, according to Robert Conrad, professor at Duke University in North Carolina, and Martin Lokanc, a mining specialist at the World Bank in Washington.

First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM), Barrick Gold (TSX, NYSE:ABX), Glencore (LON:GLEN), Vale (NYSE:VALE), and Vedanta Resources (LON:VED), are among the miners still waiting for refunds. All of them have copper projects in Zambia worth billions of dollars.