PRESIDENT Lungu has assured miners that Government will protect them and that it will not entertain job losses in the mining sector.
Mr Lungu counselled the miners to avoid being cheated by some power-hungry opposition leaders discrediting Government over the challenges the mining sector is facing.
He said the challenges besetting the mining sector are a result of a drastic fall in copper prices on the international market.
He called on the labour movement in the mining sector to provide the required leadership of championing the interests of the workers and protect them from any form of abuse at their respective companies.
President Lungu was speaking during his familiarisation tour of Konkola Copper Mines’ (KCM) Konkola Deep Mining Project shaft number four.
“I am here to see how you are working and assure you that we will not abandon Zambian mineworkers because of the fall in copper prices. We will make hard decisions going forward, but we’ll not neglect miners. We need to benefit from our minerals. We’re still depending on copper for the growth of our economy.
“We don’t expect mine owners to fire people when prices of copper go down. Minerals should not only benefit foreigners but benefit Zambians as well,” President Lungu said.
He was accompanied by First Lady Esther and State House staff led by his special assistant for press and public relations, Amos Chanda.
The President called for sacrifice from mine owners and workers during these hard times in order to sustain jobs and operations of all the mines.
He said problems in the mining sector should not be politicised and that he would not allow mining firms to hold Government to ransom through retrogressive job cuts and closure of mines.
“We can’t change the price of copper, so mining companies will not be allowed to hold us to ransom by firing workers,” Mr Lungu said.
He said government would remain open to dialogue on matters that could make the sector viable.
Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Chishimba Kambwili, who was part of President Lungu’s entourage, urged KCM and all mining companies to respect Zambian workers and always avoid throwing them onto the streets whenever the sector encounters temporary setbacks.
“It is not good to throw workers on the street. Business of copper has ups and downs. It is unfair to lay off employees who have contributed to mining companies when the sector is faced with temporary setbacks,” Mr Kambwili said.
KCM chief executive officer Steven Din said his mining company is in Zambia to stay and that it has a 50-year long-term plan which guarantees job security to its workers.
He lauded President Lungu for his visit to KCM and promised to work closely with unions in the sector on matters that could help in making the sector viable.
Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Christopher Yaluma, Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge, Patriotic Front (PF) deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri and Chililabombwe member of Parliament Esther Banda were among those who accompanied the President on the tour.