GOVERNMENT has expressed disappointment at the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines-Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH)’s silence on issues surrounding Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).
Foreign Affairs Minister Wylbur Simuusa said it was disappointing that ZCCM-IH, which sits on the boards of most of the mining firms, did not alert or inform Government on the happenings at KCM.
Mr Simuusa said during a business forum organised by the Chingola Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) in Chingola at the weekend that it was unfortunate that ZCCM had kept quiet regarding the happenings at the giant mining firm.
He said the Government had entrusted ZCCM-IH with the responsibility of providing guidance to the mines and offering advice on how best to handle the mining investors in the country.
“ZCCM-IH holds much interest in the mines by virtue of the shares it has in nearly all the mining companies in this country and it’s unfortunate that it has not lived up to its mandate of acting like a watchdog for the happenings in the mining industry,” he said.
Mr Simuusa, who is Nchanga Member of Parliament, said ZCCM-IH was a well-placed institution that had the expertise to offer the best advice but had not lived to that standard.
He was, however, hopeful that KCM still had a long lifespan and had copper reserves in the upper ore body.
Mr Simuusa, who is also Patriotic Front chairperson for mines, said he was optimistic that if Vedanta Resources opted to pull out, other investors would be interested to take over the mines.
The minister assured that Government would not allow the loss of jobs in the country.
And CCCI president Freddie Musonda said the business forum was organised so that members could be aware of Government’s position on the happenings at KCM.
On November 1 this year, KCM management announced its intentions to lay off over 1,500 workers following its decision to introduce advanced mechanisation and automation for all its operations.
The mining firm said the move was meant to get rid of the conventional labour intensive mining methods.
KCM chief executive officer Kishore Kumar allegedly fled the country after defying President Michael Sata’s directive not to lay off any employee, prompting Government to revoke his work permit.
The mining giant is also at the centre of a pollution threat of Kafue River, the main source of water for Chingola residents.
The river faces a risk of being polluted due to spillage of suspended solids and sulphate from the company’s Muntipa tailings dam.
Muntipa Stream hosts KCM’s tailings dam where the mine discharges its effluent from the tailings leach plant and pours into Mwambashi which subsequently flows into Kafue River.
[Times of Zambia]