Natural resources and energy
Zambia is known for its high quality copper
ore assets. Copper exports have long been the country's
most important source of income, and it will learn so in
the foreseeable future. Zambia also has good access to
hydropower, but during drying periods there is a
shortage of electricity. Cobalt, coal and diamonds are
other important natural resources.
The first mine, Broken Hill, was opened in 1906
outside the town of Kabwe, a little north of the capital
Lusaka. There, lead and zinc were mined until 1994. The
center of the mining industry is now located in the
20-mile-long and seven-mile-wide province of the
Copperbelt North, where copper mining began in the
Major exports by Zambia with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Zambia is estimated to have 6 percent of the world's
copper assets. When mining was most profitable in the
late 1960s, Zambia accounted for 12 percent of the
world's copper production. After the fall in copper
prices in the mid-1970s, the market was difficult to
recover and during the 1980s the large state-owned
copper company was heavily indebted. In 1991, the
government decided to privatize the copper giant, but it
was not realized until 2000.
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Plenty of cobalt
During the first year of the 2000s, foreign, not
least Chinese, companies made major investments in the
Zambian copper industry. At the same time, the
privatizations carried out led to lower costs. The
result was a production increase of 75 percent between
2000 and 2005. In the following years, production
reached up to - and surpassed - the top quotes of the
1970s. Nevertheless, Zambia's share of the world copper
market fell to just over 3 percent, mainly due to the
global market's growth.
Zambia is one of the world's leading producers of
cobalt, an alloy metal that is mined together with
copper. Zinc, lead, gold, silver, selenium, marble and
precious stones such as emeralds, amethysts and diamonds
are also mined.
Zambia has significant coal assets, estimated at
around 250 million tonnes. However, the mining in the
only coal mine corresponds to only one tenth of the
capacity. Foreign companies have also been looking for
oil without much success. Instead, oil is imported via
pipeline from Tanzania and refined in Zambia.
Electricity shortage and environmental problems
Only about one fifth of the population is estimated
to have access to electricity - in the countryside the
proportion is only 4 percent. Most Zambians - in the
villages as well as in the cities - rely on charcoal and
wood for cooking and heating the houses. Electricity is
primarily produced at large domestic hydropower plants.
Power outages and power outages are common problems,
especially during drying periods. In such circumstances,
the electricity is often shut down by area. Heavy
drought and low levels in the water reservoirs helped
the usually prioritized mining companies to reduce their
electricity consumption in 2015. An expansion of the
power plants is planned in the next few years and the
large Caribao dam will be renovated. Zambia and
Zimbabwe, which jointly own the dam and power plant,
have applied for international loans for this.
The environmental problems are mainly caused by
severe air pollution in the Copperbelt. Leachate water
(contaminated emissions) from the mines is another
concern. Extensive harvesting of savannah forest leads
to soil degradation. Poaching is a serious threat to the
populations of rhino, elephant, antelope, lion and other
large cat animals.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
631 kilograms of oil equivalent (2013)
Electricity consumption per person
703 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
4 503 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
0.3 ton (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
88.0 percent (2015)
84 people are released from suspicion
84 people arrested in the autumn for suspected separatism in Barotseland are
released. The released were accused of wanting to make Barotseland in western
Zambia their own state (see April 2012).
Unusual arrest attracts a lot of attention
The Zambian police unit working against corruption seizes a female police
chief, accused of being mutilated by receiving a car as a gift from a mining
company. The case gets a lot of attention as it is unusual for officials or
police to be arrested in Zambia.
The ex-president's son seized
President Banda's son Andrew is arrested by the police and detained for a few
hours before being released again. The reason for the arrest is that Andrew has
expressed disdain for President Sata in connection with a political meeting.
Journalists are arrested for regime-critical articles
Two journalists are arrested and charged with rioting. According to the
authorities, they work for the news site Zambian Watchdog, which is one of the
few independent media in the country and writes about corruption in Sata's
government. Zambian Watchdog keeps its employees' names secret for fear of
Frank Bwalya forms new party
Catholic priest Frank Bwalya, who was previously a member of the PF, is
forming a new party called the Alliance for a Better Zambia. According to
Bwalya, the new party will work across all ideological boundaries and for all
the ethnic groups in the country.
The president withdraws subsidies
President Sata decides to abolish the substantial subsidies on maize
introduced after he took office as president in 2011. The reason is that the
state needs to save money. The decision leads to demonstrations and clashes
between supporters and opponents of Sata.
Two men risk imprisonment after sexual relationship
Two young men are arrested for having a sexual relationship with each other.
They risk up to 14 years in prison. After a year in custody, the men are
acquitted in July 2014. The court considers that the evidence is too weak.
Pleaded guilty to Hichilema
The indictment against opposition leader Hichilema is closed (see
They are arrested after pronounced support for gay rights
A prominent advocate for gay rights is arrested after he demanded in a radio
broadcast that Zambia decriminalize homosexuality. He is prosecuted for
"encouraging the public to participate in obscene activities".
Banda is taken away from prosecution immunity
Parliament deprives President Banda of his prosecution immunity. The
government allows the police to arrest Banda, who is accused of embezzling the
equivalent of just over $ 11 million during his time as head of state.
The President is prosecuting Hichilema
UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema is being charged with defamation by President
Sata. He is released on bail pending trial.