Zambia, Africa's biggest copper producer, plans to raise its stake in foreign-owned copper mining firms to up to 35 percent in a bid to have a bigger say in the way the mines are run, a cabinet minister said on Monday.

Maxwell Mwale, Zambia's mines and minerals development minister told Reuters the country did not plan to nationalise the copper mines, and gave no timeline on when the government would implement the move to increase its shareholdings.

We want to have a maximum of 35 percent shareholding so that we can have influence in decision making, Mwale said.

Only by taking 51 percent would it amount to nationalising the industry, he said in an interview.

Zambia holds an average of 15 percent in copper firms.

Some of the firms operating copper mines in Zambia are London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc , Canada's First Quantum Minerals , Equinox Minerals Ltd and Glencore International AG of Switzerland.

(Reporting by Shapi Shacinda, Editing by James Macharia)

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