Luanshya Mayor Nathan Chanda has warned Mopani Copper Mines against sending miners on forced leave and placing the mine on care and maintenance.

In a statement today, Chanda, who is also PF Copperbelt Youth Chairman observed that Mopani had already sent some miners home with the intention of shutting down operations.

“Mopani should put the interest of the people first considering that we are coming from a time where we had job losses in the mines due to shortage of power and other economic factors that affected the economy. The crisis that we had in the mines where our people had lost jobs should not happen again. We feel Mopani should settle their differences with CEC now before tension heightens. This issue of some mines just declaring losses should come to an end. There is no way a private business can just be working on losses all these years. Don’t take Zambians for granted,” Chanda stated.

“We appreciate your investment but you must respect the interest of Zambians, and for this reason we want to state categorically that we are standing with the miners that have now been sent home. We understands what the mines are going through at the moment and we need to have a win-win situation.”

He appealed to Mopani to resolve their standoff with CEC over electricity tariffs.

“The Patriotic Front Youths on the Copperbelt has strongly appealed to Mopani Copper Mines to sort out their electricity tariffs differences with CEC. As youths we strongly object the plans by Mopani Copper Mines to start sending the miners on forced leave and planning to put some areas on care and maintenance. Mopani Copper Mines like any other mines must appreciate the efforts the government was making even to an extent of going out of its way by importing power at a huge cost of 18cents per kw and the mines were getting at 16cents per kw for almost the past two years. We have almost archived 96% of what other successful government didn’t do of moving to cost refractive tariffs by Zesco, and 7 out of about 9 mines are paying. Ordinary citizens are also paying what about Mopani?” Chanda stated.

“If at all Mopani mine is losing about $3m daily, let them settle their electricity tariffs difference with the Copperbelt Energy Corporation now to easy the uncertainty among the miners. We feel Mopani is being unfair to our people who are been sent back home. We will not allow the arm-twisting of the PF government by both parties because this is a private business.”

He also appealed to miners to remain calm.

“We want to appeal to the miners to remain calm during this time. We don’t want job losses on the Copperbelt and we have suppliers depending on the survival of the mines even though much needs to be done in supporting locals suppliers and contractors by the mine firms,” stated Chanda.

At the time of writing, Mopani Copper Mines Public Relations Manager Nebert Mulenga was yet to respond to a press query from News Diggers! on the scheduled forced leave for workers.