THE Association of Mine Suppliers and Contractors has appealed to Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to expedite the payment of US$16 million it owes over 500 of their members on the Copperbelt before it winds up its activities at Nchanga Underground Mine (NUG) in Chingola.
KCM has placed the Nchanga underground mine on care and maintenance.
Association president Augustine Mubanga said in an interview yesterday that KCM should liquidate the US$16 million owed to suppliers and contractors for the services they rendered to the Vedanta-owned company.
“We are appealing to KCM to clear the US$16 million it owes various mine suppliers and contractors on the Copperbelt,” Mr Mubanga said.
Mr Mubanga said mine suppliers and contractors are adversely affected by the challenges the mining sector is facing which has resulted into loss of business.
He said suppliers who were given contracts to supply equipment at both KCM and Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) have had their orders terminated.
KCM vice-president for Local Economic Development David Paterson said recently that the mining firm, which had earlier pledged to clear the debt by the end of September, has failed to pay the contractors due economic factors.
The mining firm placed its NUG under care and maintenance last week, saying it wanted to protect its financial viability in view of the declining copper prices on the international market.
However, Government has constituted a team of forensic auditors to determine whether the KCM’s NUM is still viable.
Chief Government Spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili said Government believes that the mine is viable and suspects that the investor is only interested in the already mined ore instead of exploration, development and production.
This comes in the wake of the decision by KCM management to place NUM under care and maintenance leaving 1,675 contract workers out of employment and a further 825 jobs to be lost in the next three months.
Mr Kambwili, speaking at a press briefing last Friday said information indicates that the investor has dumped the mining of ore in preference for treating ore from waste dump sites OB 16, and 12 and from other mines.
“Should investigations be conducted by the team of forensic auditors prove these allegations true, Government will ask the investor to write a letter of abandonment and handover the mine so that other investors who would be interested in mining are found,” he said.