A man surveys a pit with an engineering instrument

Positioning Zambia for a copper-plus future

Policy paper Copper, Mining and energy

Zambia has a wealth of natural resources, primarily copper, which is essential to achieve a global transition to low-emission energy infrastructure. Early recognition of the demand for copper can give Zambia the opportunity to pivot into the supply chain for low-emissions technologies. The global energy transition is an economic transformation which can provide enough near and medium-term demand to sustain the link between mineral resources, economic growth, and poverty reduction.

Zambia has an opportunity to create a well-developed vertical supply chain and diverse interlinkages in the mining sector for sustained growth. Other countries’ growth stories have stalled with an over-reliance on natural resource wealth, crowding out other economic opportunities. Investing in the mineral supply chain requires avoiding potential pitfalls which could leave Zambia vulnerable to future fluctuations in commodity prices. The development and strength of the copper industry should be leveraged to support industrial development within and beyond the sector. Long-run development for a copper-plus future will require harnessing and re-investing the revenues of the mining sector to develop the linkages within other high, potential growth sectors for the future.

There is a unique opportunity to capitalise on both the availability of natural resources - minerals - and renewable energy potential to create low-cost infrastructure to support business investment. Improving the productivity and size of the copper value chain requires, firstly, a broad base of reliable electricity. Increasing demand for electricity in the sector will require new generation capacity, which can be provided by solar energy. Solar power projects have a short time frame for development given it is less capital intensive than traditional energy generation sources, and with rapidly declining prices. New solar capacity can serve a source of reliable electricity, with the potential to catalyse wider economic growth.