KONKOLA Copper Mines (KCM) is placing the Nchanga underground mine in Chingola under care and maintenance with immediate effect resulting in 1,675 employees being laid off.
In a statement, KCM manager for public relations and communications Shapi Shachinda said the decision to place the mine on a ‘‘managed’’ care and maintenance programme was arrived at on Wednesday, 25th November 2015 after close consultation and dialogue with the three trade unions that represent KCM employees.
Another 825 miners would be retrenched later, bringing the total to 2,500.
He said the unions and KCM prepared a joint announcement about the basis for this decision.
Mr Shachinda said over the last year, the price of copper had fallen from around $6,500 per tonne to $4,500 per tonne which was the lowest since 2009.
“In the light of the declining prices, KCM has been reviewing its operations and the Nchanga underground mine was highlighted as a loss-making asset which, if allowed to continue, would result into the business losing $30–$40 million over the next year,” he said.
He explained that the decision to place Nchanga underground mine under care and maintenance had been made in order to protect the financial viability of the whole KCM business.
Mr Shachinda said all contracting firms operating at Nchanga underground mine would be released, saying this would impact on 1,675 of their employees immediately and a further 825 over the next three months.
He said all pensionable KCM employees and permanent staff from the Nchanga underground would be redeployed within the business.
Mr Shachinda said KCM would during the period of managed care and maintenance conduct a technical review to evaluate the best way to bring the operations back into production when market conditions improve.