October 26, 2016 / 11:16 AM / 3 years ago

First Quantum expects approval of Zambia industrial park soon

LUSAKA, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Canada’s First Quantum Minerals expects Zambia to approve the creation of a new industrial park it is spearheading near its Kalumbila mine in the coming days, its local director in charge of government affairs said on Wednesday.

John Gladston said the Multi-Facility Economic Zone (MFEZ) in north-western Zambia would help attract foreign direct investment and diversify the economy of Africa’s second-biggest copper producer.

Zambia’s economy should grow by 3 percent this year, little changed from 2015, while the fiscal deficit will widen due to depressed metal prices, Finance Minister Felix Mutati said on Oct 20.

“We have waited for four years and we are now confident that the government will finally take the appropriate action ...hopefully in the coming days,” Gladston told Reuters.

First Quantum has received a number of firm enquiries from companies seeking to invest in the industrial park and the government has made commitments to endorse the project, he said.

“The MFEZ is an important economic tool for North-Western province and wider Zambia,” Gladston said.

First Quantum had invested $5.7 billion in Zambia as of 2015 with $2.6 billion going into the Kansanshi Mine, $1 billion in the Kansanshi Smelter and $2.1 billion in the Trident Project, which includes the Sentinel and Enterprise mines, he said. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; editing by Jason Neely)

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