PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has stepped in at Luanshya Copper Mines (LCL) and ordered the mine owners to rescind the decision to lay off 1,200 miners at its Baluba Mine.
President Lungu said the decision taken by LCM management is null and void and an expression of arrogance after Government asked the investor not to take the harsh action to lay off workers.
President Lungu has since directed Mines Minister Christopher Yaluma, Fackson Shamenda for Labour, and Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Chishimba Kambwili to hold an emergency meeting tomorrow to address issues affecting Baluba Mine on the Copperbelt.
The President’s message was communicated by Mr Kambwili who is the Chief Government spokesperson when he addressed hundreds of miners in Luanshya’s Mpatamato Township yesterday.
Mr Kambwili said he had discussed with the President on matters affecting the smooth running of Baluba Mines were discussed.
“The decision to lay off workers is null and void. As far as government is concerned Baluba Mine is still operational and workers are still working,” President Lungu said during the discussions.
Mr Kambwili during his address to the miners urged mine investors to respect Zambians and not to abrogate the Minerals and Mines Act.
He said it was important for the mine owners in the country to involve Government before rushing to take steps such as cutting their labour force.
He said amid cheers that Government would ensure a consensus was reached in the matter involving the affected Luanshya miners.
He appealed for calm among the miners as Government strategizes on finding an amicable solution to the matter.
Government had already taken steps to intervene in the concerns of reduced power supply to Baluba Mine.
To this effect communication between the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC), LMC and acting Mines Permanent Secretary Paul Chanda was already taking place to provide a solution to the problem.
A letter dated September 7, 2015, from Mr Chanda to CEC, indicated that concern was raised by LMC over plans to reduce power supply by 30 per cent and the power company was advised to reconsider this decision.
“If indeed you intend to restrict the power supply, I suggest that you reconsider your decision and see how best you can manage this matter to ensure continued operation of Baluba Mine and Concentrator to avoid placing such a huge number of employees on forced leave with uncertain future,” Mr Chanda stated in his letter to the CEC chief executive officer.
LMC confirmed that 1,200 miners had been sent on forced leave while the attendant departments had been placed on care and maintenance.