THE sinking of the Mindola and Mufulira Deep shafts with the prospects of securing 3,000 jobs at Mopani mine was commissioned yesterday in Kitwe with President Edgar Lungu saying the Patriotic Front (PF) government will not be deterred by any challenges or detractors because it has an onerous task of improving the living standards of the people.
He said the PF has stood on a platform of attaining higher and sustained economic growth and uplifting the well-being of the poor in society and so no challenges or detractors would stop it from achieving its goal
The President was speaking yesterday at Mindola shaft in Kitwe in a speech read for him by Information minister Chishimba Kambwili during the official commissioning of the sinking of the Mindola and Mufulira Deep shafts of Mopani Copper Mines (MCM).
The Mindola and Mufulira Deep shafts will secure more than 3,000 jobs which would otherwise have been lost as a result of closure of some of Mopani’s uneconomic mines beginning in 2015.
“Such positive developments in the mining industry and particularly the projects being undertaken by Mopani give the PF government hope, renewed hope, that of achieving its goal of accelerated and sustainable economic development.
“The PF government has stood on a platform of attaining higher and sustained economic growth and uplifting the well-being of the poor in society. In this regard, we will not be deterred by any challenges or detractors, for we have an onerous task of improving the living standards of our people,” President Lungu said.
He said the Mindola and Mufulira Deep shafts were among the projects for which the US$1.1billion was set aside to transform Mopani into a modern mining operation.
President Lungu said the two shafts will be sunk to the depth of 2,000 metres, making them some of the deepest shafts ever sunk in Zambia, and the deepest copper mines on the African continent.
“With these new projects, Mopani will be able to access deep seated ore, thus extending the life of the mines by a further 20-25 years and ensuring its safety, sustainability and profitability.
“It is pleasing therefore that despite the decline in metal prices on the international market, investment into Zambia’s mining industry has continued, another marked demonstration that our country will continue to be a mining country for many years to come,” he said.
President Lungu commended Glencore, the major shareholders in Mopani, for showing confidence in Zambia’s economy by its continued investment in the country, in the midst of the challenges in the sector, locally and globally.
“It is gratifying to be here to officiate at yet another occasion for another milestone expansion project by Mopani Copper Mines Plc. Recently, I commissioned the Synclinorium shaft at Nkana mine, an indication that we have a bright future, not only for Mopani, but also for the entire mining sector in the country.
“Let me commend Glencore, the major shareholders in Mopani, for showing confidence in Zambia’s economy by its continued investment in the country, in the midst of the challenges in the sector, locally and globally. I urge other investors to emulate Glencore for its resilience,” he said.
Earlier, Mopani Copper Mines chief executive officer Johan Jansen said the two projects were expected to extend the lives of the Mopani mines in Kitwe and Mufulira by a further 25 to 30 years by giving Mopani direct access to new ore bodies with improved grades.
He said by providing direct access to the ore bodies, the two shafts will drastically reduce the number of times the copper was handled, thereby improving production efficiencies and reducing costs.
“The Mindola and Mufulira Deep shafts stand to secure more than 3,000 jobs which would otherwise have been lost as a result of closure of some of Mopani’s uneconomic mines beginning in 2015, but with these shafts, alongside the US$323million Nkana Synclinorium shaft, which President Edgar Lungu commissioned last month, the future of Mopani and its employees is well secured,” Mr Jansen said.
He also said apart from securing jobs at Mufulira and Mindola facilities, the new shafts will also increase ore production from the current 1.1 million tonnes to 2 million tonnes per annum by 2018 at Mindola, and by 0.4 million tonnes to 2.4 million tonnes per annum by 2022 at Mufulira mine.
“Mopani will spend a total of US$282 million on sinking and equipping the Mindola Deep shafts and another US$277 million on Mufulira Deep shaft. These projects are part of the US$1.1 billion investment earmarked for our expansion projects up to 2018,” Mr Jansen said.