For a long time, Zambia’s economy has relied heavily on its mining industry. However, there is a growing awareness of the necessity to shift towards a more sustainable and environmentally conscious approach to mining. The adoption of a green economy offers significant opportunities for Zambia’s mining sector, in terms of both sustainability promotion and increased revenue generation. According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), a green economy is one that enhances human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Simply put, a green economy aims to promote sustainable development and limit adverse effects on the environment within an economic system.

Zambia has abundant mineral resources, including copper, cobalt, gold, and zinc. However, the mining industry has been criticized for its detrimental environmental effects, particularly regarding water pollution, deforestation, and air pollution. The green economy presents a solution to these problems by promoting sustainable practices that can help to mitigate these negative impacts and generate economic benefits. The increasing focus on achieving ‘net zero’ emissions worldwide suggests that copper will become increasingly important to the global economy. Zambia also has considerable reserves of valuable cobalt. With a stable tax system and readiness to implement policies, the mining industry could shift from being just a source of foreign currency to an integrated sector that places the country at the forefront of decarbonized and green-growth development.

Zambia’s mining industry could benefit significantly from pursuing renewable energy projects and targeting electric vehicle (EV) technology. The country has immense potential for generating clean and cost-effective energy through solar, wind, and hydropower sources, which could power mining operations and reduce carbon emissions. By doing so, the industry could reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, which are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. This shift towards sustainable practices may also attract foreign investment and access to international financing, as many investors and lenders now prioritize environmentally responsible and sustainable projects. Additionally, adopting sustainable mining practices, such as responsible sourcing and management of minerals, land restoration, and reducing waste and emissions, can reduce the industry’s environmental impact and foster social inclusivity by generating job opportunities for local communities.

Zambia’s government has acknowledged the potential of the green economy and has taken steps to encourage sustainable mining practices. Among these steps is the introduction of policies and regulations that mandate mining companies to implement environmental and social management plans and ensure that their operations are sustainable and environmentally responsible. The adoption of sustainable practices and the promotion of renewable energy projects provide significant opportunities for Zambia’s mining sector, both in terms of promoting sustainability and increasing revenue. By pursuing these opportunities, the mining industry can lead the way in environmentally responsible mining practices, contributing to the country’s economic growth and development. It is crucial for Zambia’s government to maintain its support and promotion of sustainable mining practices to guarantee a sustainable future for the mining industry and the country.

Ellen Makinishi
Private Sector Enhancement Monitoring (PSEM) Specialist
Zambia Tax Platform

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