Calls from stakeholders in the Copperbelt Province have heightened the need for the Government to expedite the process resolving the issue of nearly dormant Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) with Good Governance activist Peter Mulenga urging the state to retain Indian investor Vedanta Mineral Resources.
CARITAS Zambia and a think tank called Sustainable Natural Resource Empowerment Initiative Limited (SuNREI) on Monday demanded that the Government provide clear updates on the pending revival of nearly dormant KCM and Mopani Copper Mines.
Mr. Mulenga said there is need for the Government to expedite the process of re-engaging Vedanta Mineral Resources on taking over the running of Konkola Copper Mines adding that the two parties must agree a win-win deal.
The Government and Vedanta are currently negotiating the disputed ownership of KCM out of court after protracted legal battles in Zambia and South Africa.
Mr. Mulenga said the Government and KCM should put the welfare of suppliers and contractors at the top of their negotiations.
He added that it was good that Vedanta Resources has shown willingness to commit to social corporate responsibility that will ensure various community programmes are supported.
“The people of Copperbelt and Zambian at large are urging the government to expedite the process of re-engaging Vedanta Resources on taking over the running of Konkola Copper Mines –KCM- and in the process negotiate a win-win situation for both parties. At the top of the negotiations, suppliers/contractors should be at the core of any deal. We do not want a situation where foreign companies will be favored more than Zambians, in fact there should be a deliberate policy for any foreign contractor to partner with a Zambia firm, what I mean by a Zambia firm is an indigenous firm with 100% Zambian ownership. It’s on record that Vedanta Resources has shown willingness to commit to social corporate responsibility that will ensure various community programs are initiated, and the government must engage the mining firm based on the promises they have made which are fair,” Mr. Mulenga said.
“Konkola Blades, Nchanga Ranger, Nampundwe football teams should be at the center of the social responsibility which should be emphasized. Any new agreement has to include all these, including road maintenance. FQML do mend roads at regular intervals in N/W province, KCM should not just come here to externalize resources. A clear policy should be put in place and there should be no sacred cows this time around. They should come back on terms that fully benefit the community and Zambia as a whole. As it stands KCM is in dire need. It is sick. It is in a grave position. You cannot continue to pretend that things are going well in KCM and Mopani. In life, it is good to swallow pride.”
“Vedanta has committed to paying KCM suppliers, specifically small suppliers owed up to $220 million according to a letter which Duggal issued; they also committed to increase salaries by 20% across the board. We should take them on, on these pledges. I am really happy that Zambian Green Party Leader Peter Sinkamba has again called upon the New Dawn to expedite the resolution of the KCM/Mopani issue. Copper price will be reaching $9000 per tonne. Every good Zambian should support the call by the Green party Leader. These are type of politicians we need in Zambia who offers proper check and balance,” Mr. Mulenga stated.
Last February, Minister of Mines Paul Kabuswe revealed conditions the New Dawn Government has given Vedanta as the London metal exchange listed-firm seeks to reclaim Konkola Copper Mines.
Mr. Kabuswe said Government has told Vedanta to pay all suppliers and contractors, to invest in mining development and to run the mine efficiently as some of the conditions.