Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) national secretary Mutisunge Zulu has commended Mopani Copper Mine for preserving jobs in the wake of the introduction of 2019 mining fiscal regime.

Last Friday, Finance Minister Mwanakatwe Mwanakatwe expressed gratitude towards Mopani for restating its long-term investment commitment to the country and for preserving jobs.

According to a statement issued by Ministry of Finance spokesperson Chileshe Kandeta, Mopani Copper Mines Chief Executive Officer Chris Vermeulen assured a high-level government team at Finance Headquarters in Lusaka last Thursday that there would be no retrenchments as a result of the introduction of the 2019 mining fiscal regime.

The implementation of the 2019 mining fiscal regime by government effective January 1, 2019, has seen an increase in mineral royalty rates by 1.5 percentage points at all levels of the sliding scale, a move that has led to planned job cuts by companies such as First Quantum Mineral (FQM), while Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Plc have downsized their Nchanga Smelter operations due to low availability of concentrates.

Reacting to the announcement, Zulu urged other mining firms to emulate Mopani and preserve jobs.

“The Economics Association of Zambia has commended Mopani Copper Mine Ltd for the commitment towards preservation of jobs following the introduction of a new mining tax regime. The Association further commends the mining entity for embracing a mutually-beneficial mature dialogue approach towards a win–win outcome for both the government and the mining company. This comes in the wake of the recent impasse between the government and mining firms following effecting of a new mining tax regime on January 1, 2019. EAZ has urged other mining companies to emulate Mopani and support the government’s initiative to shore up revenues needed for investment in infrastructure development, education and other social needs. Mopani is the first mining firm to commit to preservation of jobs and openly engage in mutually-beneficial dialogue,” Zulu stated.

“The Association also recognises the efforts of Finance and Mines Ministries in facilitating open-door policy accommodating consultative meetings with the mines as they navigate around a win–win outcome. The EAZ also wishes to recognise the relentless efforts of the Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MWUZ) and other stakeholders working around the clock to protect the welfare of miners whose jobs are at threat.”

He added that the EAZ remained confident an amicable solution between mining companies and government would eventually be found.

“The Association is still confident that an amicable solution will be arrived at ultimately. EAZ would like to counter claims by international media that have been reporting that Zambia is pricing itself to uncompetitiveness in the mining sector following the new mining tax changes in mineral royalties. The Association re-iterates that Zambia remains within similar tax brackets with its base metal peers namely the DRC, Tanzania and Chile. Its ore grade quality for copper remains one of the highest in the world. Zambia remains a preferred investment destination,” stated Zulu.