BARRICK-LUMWANA Mining Company is confident that the outcome of negotiations with Government over mineral royal tax will be favourable to allow the mine continue operating.
“Barrick Lumwana reiterates that it remains in discussions with the Zambian Government in the hope of negotiating a mutually acceptable outcome that would allow Lumwana to continue operating,” read the statement from Barrick-Lumwana corporate office in Lusaka.
The mining giant Barrick had earlier last week indicated that it would suspend operations at Lumwana following Government’s decision to uphold the revised mineral royalty tax for open cast mines which was increased from 6 per cent to 20 per cent this year.
However, the Canadian mining giant on Monday evening said it was in the interest of all stakeholders that the mine continued to operate on a sustainable basis hence the engagement with Government.
“While no final decision to proceed with the suspension of the mine has been made yet, we are working to a decision deadline before the end of March,” reads the statement.
Lumwana mine was experiencing lower copper output and production which fell from 154, 221 tonnes in 2013 to 140, 631 in 2014.
On Monday, President Edgar Lungu said the Government would explore other measures of operating Lumwana Mine should Barrick suspend operations.
Later in the evening, the company issued a statement that it was in the best interest of all parties that the mine continues operating and is willing to reach a mutually acceptable outcome in their discussions.
Meanwhile, the protest at Lumwana Mine in Solwezi yesterday persisted after miners downed tools for the second time in two days.
Dust had barely settled after the miners called off the work boycott in the morning when for the second time they assembled at the plant’s administration office, this time around to press for the dismissal of their Human Resources Manager, Felix Sinyenga.
Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) general secretary Joseph Chewe in an interview confirmed the protest by the miners which resumed around 16:00 hours.
Mr Chewe said the miners had in the morning resumed work, but around 16:00 hours they assembled at the administration offices demanding the immediate dismissal of Mr Sinyenga.
“Right now the union officials are addressing the miners with the view to convincing them to get back to work so that we can continue with discussions over their concerns,” Mr Chewe said.
The irate miners blocked the roads leading to the plant with logs to ensure operations were completely paralysed.
By JAMES KUNDA and MOFFAT CHAZINGWA -TIMES of Zambia