The Association of Mine Suppliers and Contractors has welcomed the pronouncement by President Hakainde Hichilema that government is still working on the process of unlocking Mopani Copper Mine and Konkola Copper Mines.
Speaking in an interview with the media in Kitwe today, association President, Coster Mwaba, however said the mine suppliers and contractors still insist that government recapitalises the two mines while working on the process of unlocking them.
Mr Mwaba said recapitalising the mines will make them operate at a level that will enable them to support suppliers and sustain salaries and other operational costs.
He stated that currently, the two mines were struggling to pay suppliers and contractors, which he said was making life hard for people in the Copperbelt Province as most businesses rely on the mines.
He also noted that it will be difficult to find equity partners or investors for the two mining companies if they accumulate more debts and their assets depreciate.
Mr Mwaba observed that it would be more costly for the new investor to recapitalise the two mines later if they are left in their current state.
“Our position has always been that whilst we agree with the roadmap the government is taking in resolving the issues at both Mopani and KCM, they need finance or allow the current structure to raise the finance and operate the assets up to the time when the negotiations will be concluded. The longer the government is taking, the more the mines are going under,” he said.
And a Kitwe based Mining Researcher, James Musonda, said President Hichilema emphasised private ownership of mines by Zambians and not public ownership.
Dr. Musonda said increased public ownership of the mines will help address the problem of inequalities in the distribution of resources in the country.
“If one man owns a mine in Zambia, it is a good idea but does that address the inequality in the distribution of wealth? Because that man will be accumulating wealth while the rest of the people will remain poor, so we must strive for a better life where everyone will have a livelihood,” he said.
He said government should improve its performance in the mining sector which he said is the mainstay of the Zambian economy.
At the end of year press conference on Tuesday this week, President Hichilema announced future investments in new mines in the Copperbelt Province and also assured the nation that his government was still working on the process to unlock KCM and Mopani Copper Mines.
The President attributed the delay in the process of unlocking the two mines to the huge damage that was created when the investors left the companies.