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State warns Baluba mine, awaits Mopani report

KAMBWILI

KELVIN CHONGO, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has warned that it will suspend the mining licence of China Non-ferrous Metal Mining Corporation Luanshya Copper Mines (CLM) if the mining company does not reverse its decision to send over 1,600 on forced leave and put the Baluba mine on care and maintenance.
And Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) plans to declare over 4,000 workers redundant due to operational challenges arising from the slump in copper prices on the international market, increase in electricity tariffs and the depreciation of the Kwacha.
Last week, CLM said it had placed Baluba mine under maintenance after considering the rising cost structure owing to the weaker copper price and increased load shedding.
But chief Government spokesman Chishimba Kambwili said Government has written to CLM to rescind its decision.
He said CLM did not follow procedure and allegedly acted illegally despite being advised by Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development director mine development Mooya Lumamba.
Mr Kambwili, who is Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, was speaking on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview television programme.
He said Government will not tolerate the decision by CLM to lay off workers.
“Government would not accept any job losses as a result of the power deficit and had told CNMC Luanshya to rescind its decision failure to which Government would take drastic measures.
“If they don’t comply, we will revoke their licence. Every investor who comes to Zambia must respect the law of the land,” he said.
Mr Kambwili said Government has options to take if CLM does not rescind its decision and that one of the options is to suspend its mining license.
“If they don’t follow the procedure, there are options for Government to invoke. We shall invoke the provisions of the law and suspend their entire mining operation.”
On MCM’s decision to suspend operations for 18 months, Mr Kambwili said Glencore is yet to inform Government of its decision to suspend operations in Zambia.
“If they also want to suspend their operations, indeed they will write to us. As far as we are concerned, nothing is going to happen at Mopani until we are written to. The position of Government is that is speculation.”
Meanwhile, Mr Kambwili says the government remains determined to ensure that the aspirations of the people are reflected in the new constitution.
Mr Kambwili said the Constitution of Zambia Amendment Bill will be tabled in Parliament in the next session opening this week.
“We are going to table contentious issues like the 50 percent plus one threshold for the winning presidential candidate in the next sitting of Parliament and have the referendum together with the 2016 general elections,” he said.
He also said Government is not bound by demands by the Grand Coalition on a campaign for a people-driven constitution because it is a group of a few individuals whose interest cannot subordinate the aspirations of the majority citizens.
Mr Kambwili said it is unfortunate that individuals like Rainbow Party president Wynter Kabimba and former Kasama member of Parliament (MP) Geoffrey Mwamba are condemning Patriotic Front (PF) policies when they have served in the administration.
“When we were drafting the PF manifesto, Mr Kabimba and GBM were part of the process. How do they come out today and condemn what they did? It is good that the people of Zambia know who these people are,” he said.
Meanwhile, NKOMBO KACHEMBA reports that Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Nkole Chishimba told a press briefing in Kitwe yesterday that MCM has indicated to the union that it will lay off some workers at its Nkana operations in Kitwe and Mufulira plant.
“We just had a meeting today [yesterday] with Mopani Copper Mines and they have indicated to us their plan to declare more than 4,000 workers redundant. We have held a number of meetings with them and we shall continue to hold consultative meetings to discuss this issue,” Mr Chishimba said.
“This figure is just too much. We can’t allow Mopani Copper Mines to lay off all those workers. This is the reason why we have continued to hold meetings with them to find a solution to the problem,” Mr Chishimba said.
He said MCM has 7,000 unionised workers at its Nkana and Mufulira plants.
Mopani public relations manager Cephas Sinyangwe said the company would comment later.

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