Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Plc has continued to meet their financial obligations in a timely manner, even under the current difficult circumstances, says the Association of Mine Suppliers and Contractors.

And Mines Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Joseph Chewe has hailed KCM provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu for ensuring that workers’ conditions of service have continued to be followed to the letter.

Giving an update on the KCM situation on their financial obligations since the mine’s provisional liquidator had been appointed, amidst the ongoing court cases between the Zambian government and KCM’s parent company, Vedanta Resources Plc, Association of Mine Suppliers and Contractors president Augustine Mubanga noted that the mining giant had continued to meet its financial obligations in a timely manner despite the difficult circumstances.

Mubanga explained that since the provisional liquidator’s team had inherited a huge debt of around US $260 million owed to some of its creditors, who included local contractors and suppliers, progress had been made in dismantling the debt.

“So, since they took over, there have been good vibes at KCM! Things are turning around; it’s only that they’ve not been talking about it. They inherited a debt of about US $260 million! So, out of that US $260 million, when they wanted to start operations, major contractors like Kalumbila, Lumwana, Lubambe, CEC…all those could not release their services and goods to KCM so that they could start production. So, until they started paying them off…they’ve liquidated quite a lot of debt to the major suppliers and contractors,” Mubanga said in interview.

“From ourselves (local suppliers and contractors), they started paying from US $0-5,000, which they’ve cleared! They were removed from the books. The next batch, which were paid were from US $5,000 to US $20,000. So, that’s very good progress made. And they’ve opened up; the smelter is working, they’ve opened up the underground mining activities at Chililabombwe and have already serviced the shafts.”

And Chewe hailed Lungu for ensuring that workers’ conditions of service have continued to be followed to the letter.

“The current liquidator has done extremely well ensuring that workers’ conditions of service are being followed to the letter. Workers are paid on time, those being retired are receiving retirement packages, and already, even production…even areas that were for instance TLP (Tailings Leaching Plant), underground Nchanga, underground Konkola is operating almost coming to normality. So, as worker representatives, we can’t point a figure at the (provisional) liquidator (Lungu) in terms of running the mine; workers are paid and the mine is running; maybe not 100 per cent, but they has been positive steps and I think this very encouraging. Even (if) an investor comes in today, you will find the mines running. I think that is what I can say,” said Chewe in a separate interview.

“All these operations are being opened up, meaning that KCM is almost running like a mine; not the way Vedanta used to run it!”