PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu is expected to continue safeguarding jobs in the mining sector by holding further talks with mine owners during his five-day working stay in Kitwe.
Mines and Minerals Development Minister, Christopher Yaluma said in an interview yesterday that serious discussions to ensure no mine is closed to avoid job losses will continue with the Head of State being at the helm of this intervention.
Mr Yaluma who is part of the Cabinet’s working team travelling to the Copperbelt, said the Government would like to see mining companies sustain their operations to minimise job losses.
“I do not want to pre-empt what the President will talk about, but all I can say is that, we will engage the mining investors in serious discussions, most of the discussions we had in Cabinet and relating to the same problem,” he said.
Mining remained a key sector of the economy and it would be tabled to the mine investors, retrenchments, were not the way to go.
“We want the mines to perform well, so as to support employment, because in an event they fail to perform, I do not think they can also employ, so we need to find a situation whereby they won’t close until everything returns to normal,” he said.
He said Government understood the difficulties that the mines were experiencing and how these affected the workers.
Mr Yaluma said the issues regarding mining operations in the country were being handled with care because the sector created a large employment base which could not be taken up in the public sector.
On threats by the Chingola based China Copper Mines (CCM) to cut jobs and further withhold a capital injection of around US$50 million owing to alleged interference by some government agencies, Mr Yaluma assured that the matter would be thoroughly investigated to prevent the planned action by the owners.
“China Copper Mine is not an exception, we will try to hear their story, problems in their operations and we will follow that very seriously, to ensure that we do not have that mine closed, if there is some interference as claimed. This we will not allow.
“We must realise that these people coming into the country, have invested money and as a Government we want them to be operating and contribute to the economy of this country, I can’t make a thorough statement unless I have been briefed by my permanent secretary when I get back to Lusaka,” he said.
He said Government was handling issues affecting the mining sector with caution and condemned any unnecessary interference from government agencies.
This, he said, if left unchecked, would send wrong signals to the investor community, both outside and those already in the investment mainstream in Zambia.
“We want investment in our country, that is why we are trying to make sure that we grow this investor friendliness by ensuring that where things have been done, no corruption, what ever you think as unethical we do not want it,” he said.