Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Richard Musukwa says Government has rejected the request by Mopani Copper Mines to place its Mines on care and Maintenance.
According to Mr Musukwa, the mining firm in May 2020 issued a fresh notice to the Director of Mines in the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development to declare its intention to place the mines in Kitwe and Mufulira on care and maintenance.
Mr Musukwa said the Director of Mines has however rejected the request because Mopani did not give convincing reasons for its decision.
He told Parliament that Mopani cited the unsustainable cost of production and reduced global mobility caused by the coronavirus pandemic as some of the issues that severely disrupted the supply chain making it difficult to access of essential equipment needed for production at the mines.
Mr Musukwa said the authorities rejected Mopani’s request based on the findings of the Inter-Ministerial Committee which found that the coronavirus pandemic had not affected operations of the mining sectors as most of the operations are mechanized.
He said Mopani Copper Mines did not provide evidence to show that it was facing challenges importing machinery saying the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry has been providing support to companies that intend to import equipment from other countries.
Mr Musukwa also refuted claims that Government owes Mopani more money in VAT Refunds saying documents from the Zambia Revenue Authority showed that the company owed government more money in other taxes.
He however said that negotiations regarding the matter are ongoing to ensure that operations at Mopani Copper Mines are sustained to avoid job losses.
Mr Musukwa was responding to Kantanshi Independent Member of Parliament Anthony Mumba who wanted to know what measures the government had employed to prevent job losses at the mine if it was put on care and maintenance.