The government has directed its mining holding company, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM), to engage an independent evaluator to determine the actual value of asset repossessed of Collum Coal Mines, where previous owners have allegedly overpriced the assets.
Meanwhile, the government says there has been headway in finding an evaluator to resolve the impending problems over the closure of the coal producer.
In February 2013, the government revoked mining licences previously owned by Chinese investors over poor safety and environmental compliance, as well as failure to pay mineral royalties.
The mine had a history of poor safety, health and environmental compliance, mainly due to employment of non-qualified personnel.
The mine also did not have emergency medical treatment facilities such as ambulances or a first-aid station underground and also failed to declare its mineral production as required for all mining companies under the Zambian law.
When asked about the current status of the coal mines which the government took over through ZCCM, Mines and Energy Minister, Christopher Yaluma, said there was need to resolve the deadlock between the government and the Chinese investors.
“They are asking for a huge sum, which I can’t mention now but we believe it is not the true value of the assets, so we have asked ZCCM to engage a private evaluator to determine the actual price, then we shall pay them and start looking for a strategic partner,” said Minister Yaluma.
Workers at the repossessed Collum Coal mines in Sinazongwe District in Southern Zambia, near the border with Zimbabwe, continue to receive their salaries despite inactivity at the mine.
And Minister Yaluma says frantic efforts are being made to find an evaluator to determine what should be paid to the former owners of the coal mine and that the matter, it is expected, will be resolved soon.
ZCCM, which was tasked to take over the mines, cannot resume production without concluding negotiations on the transfer of the mine assets with the previous owners.
Initially, ZCCM carried out evaluations, which assessed the value of the assets but the previous owners denied the figures and demanded a huge sum that has resulted in the deadlock.
Story Credit : Jeff Kapembwa