China has cemented investment plans with Zambia, offering $5bn in loans to private mining firms operating in the copper-rich country.

Zambian President Rupiah Banda said an agreement has been signed on behalf of the government which will see China Development Bank provide an initial amount of $5bn to companies in the mining sector.

The medium- and long-term loans will be provided to private companies operating in Zambia.

Banda told the ZANIS news agency the Zambian private sector should work with its Chinese counterparts in order to access resources from the $5bn funding.

It is not the first time a number of Chinese-owned firms operating in Zambia, such as China Non-Ferrous Metals Mining, Albidon and MTN have secured financing from the China Development Bank for investments in the country.

Copper Mining is a major contributor to the country’s GDP and mines are one of the top employers in the country of 12 million people.