The future of Mopani Copper Mines and Konkola Copper Mines has been a topic of much debate in recent days, with different opinions emerging from different quarters.
Patriotic Front Presidential Candidate, Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba, has accused the government of neglecting the mines in order to degrade their assets and create social and economic desperation on the Copperbelt, so that the mines could be given away to investors for a song. In an interview with Prime Television’s “Matters Arising,” Mwamba stated, “Government has been quick to find millions of dollars to clear outstanding debts, such as owed to Maamba Collieries, Copperbelt Energy Company and Mozambique, but demonstrates reluctance to promote production at the two mines. This is a clear ploy to degrade the mine assets and create social and economic desperation for the people on the Copperbelt.”
Mwamba urged the government to find resources to meet copper production targets and take advantage of high copper prices currently prevailing. He called on President Hakainde Hichilema to resolve the crisis and said, “The mines are wholly owned by government and it is easier to make decisions around investment and securing an equity partner. The government must find resources to meet copper production targets and take advantage of high copper prices currently prevailing.”
On the other hand, Advocates for National Development And Democracy Executive Director Samuel Banda and Zambians for Peace, Unity and Development President Ronnie Jere have called for the government to hand over KCM to Vedanta Resources as the legal owners. Banda, who is on the Copperbelt together with his Zambians for Peace Unity and Development counterpart Ronnie Jere, stated, “KCM and Mopani are strategic assets and sources of employment and business opportunities. We appeal to the people of Copperbelt to give Vedanta a chance to operate KCM so that they can restore the much-needed employment and business opportunities.”
Jere added, “It is disheartening to see how people on the Copperbelt are suffering and going without meals due to increased poverty levels. We reiterate our earlier calls that a decision to hand back KCM to Vedanta be made as soon as possible to restore the mining glory on the Copperbelt.”
In response to these calls, Mwamba rejected assertions that Vedanta Mineral Resources should be allowed back to own KCM. He stated, “Records show that Vedanta was a bad investor who wilfully declared fake losses, failed to pay taxes, polluted rivers and degraded the mine assets. Vedanta failed to develop Konkola Deep Mine, which has known copper reserves worth over $200 billion, but chose to make quick profits by importing concentrates from the Democratic Republic Congo.”
Mwamba called on President Hichilema to make decisions that would benefit the country beyond his presidential terms and said, “ZCCM-IH must hold equity in all large-scale mines, including Lumwana and Kalumbila, for the country to have meaningful benefit from its mineral resources. The government must make decisions that will benefit the country beyond the president’s terms in office.”
The future of KCM and Mopani remains uncertain, with different opinions emerging from different quarters. Regardless of the outcome, the people of Copperbelt hope that the situation will be resolved soon to restore the mining glory in the region and bring back employment and business opportunities. Mwamba, Banda, and Jere all agree that the government must make a decision that will benefit the country in the long-term. The people of Copperbelt hope that the situation will be resolved soon and that the mines will return to commercial production, bringing back employment and business opportunities to the region.