The Green Party President Peter Sinkamba has said that the new dawn administration is looking clueless in handling the mining sector citing the alleged lack of proper policy direction and funding in the 2022 national budget towards Konkola copper mines which he alleges needs over $240 million capitalization and Mopani copper mines that need at least $200 million.
In a series of interviews with media houses, Mr. Sinkamba said that indications on Zambia’s 2022 copper production are that figures will drop to less than 700,000 tonnes as opposed to the government’s hope of producing up to 1.3 million tons this year alone.
Mr. Sinkamba said that his party remains skeptical that the current mining policies in Zambia will be able to scale up copper production up to 3 million metric tonnes within the next 10 years, before adding that it will be interesting to see the number of investments that government will attract in the next 4 years to facilitate a scale-up of production from the current around 800,000 to 3 million metric tonnes in 10 years after the past 20 years only managed to grow copper production from around 250,000 at privatization to around 800, 000 in 2020 despite billions of dollars in investments.
Mr Sinkamba said that it is not possible to scale up mining production without plans in place to raise the country’s processing capacity while mining firms continue to declare losses.
Mr. Sinkamba also warned against the option of privatizing Mopani copper mines and KCM especially the government does not seem to have a clear direction on the two mines, reiterating ting again that the UPND government seem to be lost because they have no clear policies on mining.
He has since advised the regime to quickly consult stakeholders regarding the management of the mines as opposed to the current conducting of tours by the minister of mines who is only lamenting on how the previous administration allegedly mismanaged the sector.
Meanwhile, the government has said that it will engage Luanshya Copper Mines on the Copperbelt to find a solution on how best to save over 1,000 jobs at the mining firm once the Baluba Mine winds up its mining explorations this year.
Mines and Minerals Development Minister Paul Kabuswe said that Baluba Mine will this year close and that Government does not want to see job losses at the firm hence the need to find a quick solution to protect jobs in the mining town.
Mr. Kabuswe added that one of the best ways to save thousands of jobs at Luanshya Copper Mines is by de-watering the flooded shaft 28 which has remained flooded for years.
The Minister says Government does not want to see history repeating itself when hundreds of jobs were lost following the close of some mines years back.
He was speaking when he addressed representatives from the Mine Workers Union of Zambia, Miners and Allied workers Union and National Union of Miners and Allied Workers.
And MUZ Roan branch Chairperson Tresford Chikope complained that Luanshya Copper Mines has allegedly imported cheap labour from outside the country.
Mr. Chikope said it is unfair for the company to import cheap labor when the country has individuals who are capable of doing the same jobs outsiders are doing.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kabuswe who was flanked by Roan Member of Parliament Joel Chibuye and other senior Government officials said he does not want to hear reports of intimidation by investors whenever workers working in various mining firms complain over poor working conditions.
The Minister was reacting to complaints made by workers under a contractor engaged by Luanshya Copper Mines repairing loader trucks on the outskirts of Luanshya.
Mr. Kabuswe said the new Dawn Government does not want any worker to be subjected to low salaries and intimidation.
The Minister who concluded his visit was assured by Luanshya Copper Mines Chief Executive Officer Wang Jingjjn that jobs will he secured once the Baluba Mine winds up its production this year.