GOVERNMENT will not take kindly to threats by Glencore International to suspend operations at Mopani Copper Mines which will leave over 1600 miners on the street, Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister Christopher Yaluma has warned.
In an interview with the Daily Nation yesterday, Mr. Yaluma said Mopani Copper Mines would not go anywhere and no one would lose employment on the pretext of low copper prices or Zesco load shedding.
“We don’t take any threats lightly as Government. Any retrenchment is unwanted and we shall always endeavour to protect the employment of our people in Zambia,” Mr. Yaluma said.
He said just as it was when Konkola Copper Mines threatened to shut down operations and throw over 12,000 workers on the street, Government would always intervene to ensure that no jobs were lost.
“You saw it happen with KCM, close to 12,000 people would have been jobless, but we dialogued very well and we convinced them not to go that way. The point is that everywhere around the globe, mine owners are feeling the pinch of the commodity prices of copper going down. So it is not only Glencore in Zambia, it could be Barrick Gold elsewhere or KCM in India, it is the same thing for mines which are selling Copper or nickel. It is like that. Even in platinum it has gone the same way,” Mr. Yaluma said.
He wondered whether Glencore made the decision with full knowledge of the operations of mines in Zambia and the participation of Government in job creation.
He said it was only right for Glencore to acquaint themselves with the local operations and look at what was prevailing in Zambia in the production of copper.
“I do not think Glencore which is a parent company of Mopani, is talking with full knowledge about the local happenings in Zambia, they could have information from somewhere but that should be customized to the reality of this country and how mines are running in this country and how Government relates with mining houses and how Government would like to see the performance of the mines both in production and both in servicing and in empowering Zambians through contracts as well as employment because we have told the people of Zambia that we shall have massive employment,” Mr. Yaluma said.
He said what was happening in the mining sector was a source of concern for the PF government and that they would not allow Mopani Copper Mines to go down in that manner.
Mr. Yaluma explained that there had been interventions put in place with Mopani management proposing or writing to the Ministry seeking audience on the way forward.
“To us it is a concern which we have to take very seriously and talk to Mopani. Mopani are going to have a meeting with us and have written a letter to us indicating their commitment to discuss with,” he said.
Glencore has indicated its intentions to suspend operations in Zambia at Mopani and in Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a move which has been described as total betrayal.