The new government in Zambia, Africa\'s biggest copper producer, said on Thursday it had suspended the renewal and issue of new mining licences and would undertake an audit of the sector. Mining Minister Wilbur Simuusa said in a statement that his \"ministry has with immediate effect and until further notice suspended the issuance of new applications, renewal and transfer of mining and non-mining rights.\" He said the suspension was imposed as the current process was inefficient and bureaucratic, and that an audit would be conducted of licences. \"During the suspension period, there will be an audit and clean up of all mining and non-mining rights,\" Simuusa said. Non-mining rights include processing of minerals. Earlier this month Zambia imposed and then hastily lifted a temporary ban on metal exports while it drafted new guidelines. Zambia is the world\'s seventh-largest copper producer and copper accounts for 85 percent of exports, but cobalt, lead, gold, silver and emeralds are also mined. President Michael Sata, who took office on September 23, promised during his election campaign to change the mining tax regime to focus on companies\' total revenues, rather than profits, in order to obtain more funds from the sector. That formula is easier for the country\'s cash-strapped authorities to regulate, since it taxes a company\'s bottom line without considering its costs or investments -- which are self-reported and harder to audit. Sata took office vowing to transform Zambia\'s fortunes within 90 days and has wasted little time in putting his mark on the government which was run by the Movement for Multiparty Democracy for the last 20 years.