Mopani Copper Mines management has warned workers of a possible shutdown if the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) does not compromise on tariffs.

Some of the employers who attended a meeting said the miners were told to prepare their minds for what was to come.

“Things are don’t seem to be getting any better even after the court case was adjourned today (yesterday). The Human Resource Manager Mr Maeya addressed the union at central office and told them that their members prepare themselves in mind and financials to accept whatever will come. That if CEC can’t review the adjustments of tariffs, then Mopani will stop the all operations and put the mine on care and maintenance,” one of the workers said.

“They are saying that only the new planning project, which will finish in 2021, will be functional. All the Mopani chiefs and acting company C.E.O Mr Barry (Hodgkinson) are in Lusaka to meet the Energy Minister (David Mabumba), Labour Minister (Joyce Simukoko) and Mines Minister (Christopher Yaluma). The managers also told the unions not to worry about the salaries and packages because the company will do everything possible to prepare the money for all employees.”

The workers begged government to intervene saying too many jobs were at stake.

“If Mopani closes the mining operations tomorrow or Monday for both Nkana and Mufulira, the Copperbelt Province will collapse because other companies like Ndola Lime, Ndola Cement and other suppliers who depend in the mine will be affected. If government won’t try to stop this, over 8,000 people will be affected,” said another employee.

There is a stand-off between Mopani and CEC over electricity tariffs and the energy company has since reduced supply from the required 190 MegaWatts to 94 MegaWatts.

The Energy Minister has vowed that the mines will not be subsidized.

“It does not make sense for these firms to fail to abide by the new tariffs when domestic users are paying. Mopani is not paying, Kalumbila is not paying, Kansanshi is not paying, those mines that are not paying, we will give them the amount of power equivalent to the new tariff at 9.3 cents and it is as a result of that we have restricted, for example what I have here, Kalumbila, they are supposed to be getting 155 MegaWatts, Zesco has restricted to 110 Megawatts, Kansanshi they are supposed to be getting 187 MegaWatts, we have restricted to 133 MegaWatts. Mopaniare supposed to be getting 190 MegaWatts, they are getting 94 MegaWatts,” said Mabumba.

“There is no one person who will be given special consideration. If the other customers are paying, why should we be subsidizing to the industry? I think it will be very unfair. The mines that are not paying, they want to blackmail government, our considered view is that we don’t want this restriction of power to have an impact in the economy but obviously if this continues, it might have.”