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State will protect mines from collapse – Musukwa

DEPUTY Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Richard Musukwa says Government will ensure that it protects the mining industry from collapsing.
Commenting on the prevailing environment in the mining sector, Mr Musukwa said Government has a duty to the Zambian economy and citizens, and therefore has come up with strategies and interventions to ensure the survival of the mining industry.
“Government values mining operations in the country because we know that even as we try to diversify the economy, copper will remain the chief foreign exchange earner for some years to come,” he said.
Mr Musukwa said Government had in the recent past demonstrated the importance it attaches to the mining sector in the way it responded to the mining tax regime issue when mining firms raised concerns.
He said the productivity graph in the mining sector is not always straight, and thus surges are common, but it is important for mining firms to plan their operations by taking into consideration bad scenarios to cushion themselves in hard times.
He said the crisis facing the mining sector is universal, but it is important for mining firms to harness their human resources and navigate out of the crisis in an innovative way.
Mr Musukwa said Government was already engaging the mining houses and would continue to do so to create a sustainable solution to the many challenges.
And meanwhile, in response to a press query, Mopani Copper Mines (MCM), public relations manager Cephas Sinyangwe, said the mining firm, in relation to Glencore’s plans to reduce its net debt, was undertaking a study to optimise operations and capital expenditure.
“This exercise will take some time and is being done in consultation with all key stakeholders,” Mr Sinyangwe said.
On Monday, CNMC Luanshya Mine announced its decision to place Baluba Mine on care and maintenance, citing the plummeting copper prices and the energy crisis the country is currently experiencing.
On the other hand, Glencore, MCM’s parent company, indicated in a statement, the review of operations at its subsidiaries in Katanga, in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and MCM in Zambia.
According to the statement, the review would include the suspension of production at Katanga and MCM for 18 months up until the completion of expansionary and upgrade projects.