Zambia hands back BHP Billiton exploration licence

* Says needs world class investors

* Expects BHP to open up new mining areas

LUSAKA, Sept 8 (BestGrowthStock) – Zambia has handed back an iron
and gold exploration licence it withdrew from mining giant BHP
Billiton (BHP.AX: ) (BLT.L: ) and Blackthorn Resources to boost
mining sector growth, a minister said on Wednesday.

The government last week cancelled the exploration licence
it awarded BHP Billiton and Blackthorn on grounds that it was in
a military security zone but Mines Minister Maxwell Mwale said
he overturned the decision after the joint venture appealed.

“BHP Billiton is the largest mining house in the world and
to have them invest in Zambia has a lot of benefits for us. We
are increasing competition in the local mining sector and
competition brings international best practices,” he said.

Mwale said the government hoped BHP Billiton’s exploration
activities in north-western and central Zambia would help
diversify mining activities away from traditional mining belts
like the Copperbelt.

Zambia is Africa’s largest copper producer and the mines are
the country’s economic mainstay.

Foreign mining companies operating in Zambia include
Canada’s First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO: ), London-listed Vedanta
Resources Plc (VED.L: ), Equinox Minerals (EQN.TO.

Zambia hands back BHP Billiton exploration licence