CHISHALA MUSONDA, Kitwe
PRESIDENT Lungu says Government will come up with reforms which will facilitate monitoring and periodical reviewing of mining firms’ profitability to curb cheating by mine owners.
The President said a ministerial task force will be instituted to also determine the authentic contents of the copper ore which mines export to other countries.
He was speaking when he addressed miners, mine contractors and suppliers in Mufulira and Kitwe yesterday to assure them of the normalised operations at Mopani Copper Mines (MCM).
This followed the settlement of a protracted standoff between Mopani and the Copper Energy Corporation (CEC) over payment of the revised electricity tariffs.
“There is a lot of cheating in this industry,” Mr Lungu said.
The President was accompanied by Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Christopher Yaluma, Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo, Minister of Presidential Affairs Freedom Sikazwe, Deputy Secretary to Cabinet Christopher Mvunga, and his special assistant for press and public relations, Amos Chanda.
Mopani had threatened to lay off 80 percent of its workforce after CEC restricted power supply to the mine on August 11 this year.
President Lungu said he invited Glencore directors, the owners of Mopani, whom he discussed the impasse with and they claimed to him that the mine has not made profits in the 17 years of its operations in Zambia.
He wondered why Mopani has continued to make huge investments in its mines in Mufulira and Kitwe but claims that they were no positive returns in the mines in Zambia.
President Lungu said he engaged the mine owners to end the impasse between CEC and Mopani and not the mining firm’s chief executive officer Johan Jansen because he exhibited unwillingness to work with the Zambian people.
“I told them I don’t want to talk to the CEO but shareholders and that if they don’t want to operate in Zambia, they should leave. There are other people who are ready to take over the mines,” he said.
Mr Lungu said he explained to Glencore directors that the cost of generating power is higher than the tariff they were demanding to be paying CEC and gave them an option that Mopani should start importing power.
“So, if they were not ready to talk to CEC, they can leave. We are ready to let them go if they become funny…otherwise there are others who are willing to come and invest in the mines,” he said.
And Mr Yaluma commended the President for his intervention in the deadlock that resulted in some miners at Mopani to stay away from work since August 11.
Mr Yaluma also commended the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ), National Union of Mines and Allied Workers and United Mineworkers Union of Zambia for remaining resolute and not allowing some disgruntled people to sway them with cheap politicking on the matter.
Meanwhile, MUZ president Nkole Chishimba has said that some foreign unions are allegedly pushing for regime change in Zambia by trying to influence certain companies to make decisions that would make Government unpopular.
He said the union has responsible and upright leaders who have the interests of the country at heart.
Mr Chishimba assured President Lungu that the union appreciates his efforts to end the impasse between Mopani and CEC.
And Mr Lusambo said no one in the province will be allowed to distract the economic, political and social legacy President Lungu is building for the country.