MOPANI Copper Mines Plc says the move by Kitwe City Council (KCC) to send bailiffs to pounce on the company over a disputed debt which is active in court is concerning.

And union sources have disclosed that the company has reached a deadlock in its discussions with government over continuing with its application to put the mine on care and maintenance.

Bailiffs, Wednesday, pounced on Mopani Copper Mines after the mining giant refused to pay K54 million property rates allegedly owed to Kitwe City Council under the new valuation roll.

In a statement, Mopani public relations manager Nebert Mulenga stated that Mopani had an agreement with KCC which remains valid until the end of 2020, adding that the High Court granted the company a stay of execution against the award of the new rates.

“Mopani Copper Mines Plc entered a five-year agreement with Kitwe City Council in 2015 to pay property rates of K8 million per annum. This agreement remains valid until the end of 2020. Earlier this year, the Council, without prior consultation, increased the rates to K58 million (+600 percent) contrary to the provisions of the Agreement, and rejected Mopani’s offer to pay the undisputed amount of K8 million while negotiations were ongoing. Mopani Copper Mines Plc has since disputed the adjusted rates in the High Court, which granted the company a Stay of Execution against the award of the new rates. Mopani remains a long standing partner to Kitwe City Council. The act of sending bailiffs to collect a disputed debt, which is still before the courts of law, is concerning. Mopani has since made the full payment for the undisputed K8 million and remains hopeful of a swift conclusion to the matter,” stated Mulenga.

And sources have disclosed that government and Mopani have not yet found common ground and talks are still on-going to stop the mine from going on care and maintenance.

“We have a deadlock, Mopani’s position based on the assessment of the business by the parent company and all that is going on, the business environment, they are supposed to proceed on care and maintenance come 1st August because we pushed in the notice for three months on 1st May. We are remaining with 29 days to get to the 90 days but then the government has said no and they have constituted a team,” said the source. “A team has come, we’ve given them all the reasons, we’ve given them all the information they needed, they haven’t gotten back but they just indicated preliminarily that as government, ‘we are not going to allow that Mopani should proceed on care and maintenance’. So at the moment, we are still in discussions, it’s not cast in stone and they have not come to a common ground because government’s definitive position is no care and maintenance, Mopani’s definitive position or Glencore’s definitive position is care and maintenance. So we are hanging in there and we are hoping before the end of this month, they should come to a common position but engagements are continuing.”