Luanshya Job Losses create Fear In Miners

The impending Luanshya job losses had created fear in miners as a result of the global financial crisis.

Closed door meeting

In the light of the crisis President Rupiah Banda had directed finance minister Situmbeko Musokotwane to urgently travel to the United Kingdom to meet Puku Minerals in order to discuss possibilities of taking over Luanshya Copper Mines (LCM), which the owners J&W Investment group had put on care and maintenance.

Under care and maintenance, LCM would stop production and all employees would not be working except for security personnel and a few administrative staff who would be manning the premises.

During a closed door meeting with senior management, MUZ officials and other stakeholders on Saturday the 14th December 2008 in Luanshya, President Banda said there was need to find solutions to the Luanshya job losses challenge facing LCM.

President Banda said government was considering various options of ensuring that the mine continued operating in order to avoid problems that occurred when Roan Antelope Mining Corporation (RAMCOZ) was running the mines.

According to the The Post dated 16th December 2008, the projection of LCM Management was that copper prices would remain below the US$4,000 per tonne level for the next 12 months.

The source said “they wanted to cease production for about a year or more but it seemed they just wanted to place the mines under care and maintenance since the company had stopped underground development and the blasting process and these are key factors in mining operations. The company had also shut down its cobalt and copper smelter and processing plant in Chambishi hence showing that they just wanted to leave the country,” the Post stated.

Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) reaction

Meanwhile Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) had called on government to address the crisis in the face of the impending Luanshya job losses.

MUZ secretary general Oswell Munyenyembe said on 15th December 2008 that the Union had been inundated with notices of redundancies and cessation of some mine operations, as a result of the global financial crisis and continued fall in metal prices.

Mr. Munyenyembe said:

“the Union has received notices that 800 KCM employees will be pruned; 500 Chambishi Metal employees will be put on recess due to the suspension of operations of mainly the smelter and other operations, Prosec LCM site is offloading 500 employees while the Mufulira site employing 400 miners has been closed".
Mr. Munyenyembe further said that JVC Mufulira site with 107 employees had received notice to cease operations and JVC Nkana was likely to shed over 200 employees; and MCM was targeting 4,000 permanent and contract employees in measures aimed at saving operational costs and sustaining operations.

The MUZ secretary general called upon the government and all key stakeholders to take bold and fast tracked emergency measures to ameliorate and cushion the impact on workers faced with rising mealie-meal prices and other essential commodities.

“In an emergency than the one we face today, we should not shy away from even suspending The National Constitutional Conference and other medium term and long- term projects to mobilise resources for maize importation and supporting the domestic economy if we have to whether the storm,”

“We should even begin to think outside the box and look at ZCCM –IH and transform it into an equity partner ready to put under its wings small and viable operations that are unable to attract loan or project finance on better terms”, Munyenyembe said.

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