ESTHERT MSETEKA, Lusaka
THE United Mineworkers Union of Zambia (UMUZ) has urged Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) to consider investing in alternative sources of energy to reduce dependence on Zesco Limited and Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) for power supply.
This follows the recent power supply restrictions to MCM by CEC and Zesco Limited, which has led to the company suspending its production operations and, subsequently, sending workers home until the matter is fully resolved.
Last year, following several engagements with mining consumers, Zesco announced that effective January 1, 2017, mining tariffs would increase to 9.30 US cents per kilo watt.
But UMUZ president Wisdom Ngwira said exploring other sources of energy such as thermal and solar power generation will enable MCM to save electricity costs.
Mr Ngwira said in a statement availed to the Daily Mail yesterday that MCM and CEC should resolve the impasse amicably and consider the economy and plight of workers.
“Following the restricted amount of electricity being supplied by CEC to MCM because of the disputed tariffs hike, UMUZ would like to urge Mopani employees to remove the anxieties as we wait for the outcome of the discussions between the two parties.
“During this period, we want to appeal to all MCM employees and contractors to stay calm as management and Zesco Limited are negotiating on the way forward. We shall keep you updated as we get information from management,” he said.
Mr Ngwira also said the situation at the mine has the potential to cause operational sabotage due to restrictions on power supply by CEC.
He said the stand-off also gives workers and management an opportunity to enhance occupational health and safety campaign programme.
“Indeed, it is a time of reflection and stock taking on safety performance. Our hope is that the matter shall be resolved sooner than later,” Mr Ngwira said.
So far, seven mining companies in North-Western and Copperbelt provinces have started paying the revised electricity tariffs.
These include Konkola Copper Mines, Barrick, Luanshya Mines, Kansanshi, Chambeshi Mines and the Non-Ferrous Mining Company among others.