The people of Copperbelt Province are so important that when they cough, the rest of Zambia gets a serious illness, says President Edgar Lungu.

Addressing miners at Mufulira Civic Centre today, the Head of State said government would come up with new mining reforms which will ensure that companies that claim not to make profit in three years are allowed to leave.

He said the electricity tariff dispute between CEC and Mopani Copper Mines had created a crisis which should have been avoided.

“Power belongs to the people and the people of the Copperbelt are important and when Copperbelt coughs the rest of Zambia develops a serious illness. When the interests of people is at stake I will always side with the people and therefore I acted on the interest of the people and I told owners of Mopani, the Geneva based Glencore limited. The CEC/Mopani crisis was unfortunate and must not have been allowed to reach the level it reached,” President Lungu said.

“I know that Mopani has invested billions of dollars and I am not an advocate of nationalization but I cannot tolerate investors who are bent of abusing workers’ rights. Those who fail to run the mines can go and we shall pass it on to others.”

He said government would come up with new mining reforms.

“Mopani told me that they have invested for 17 years and not reaped a single dollar from their investments. So I will set up special committee to reform the mining sector and recommend what must happen if an investor does not make a profit within three years. If any investor doesn’t make a profit in three years we have to make a decision whether they can continue or not. The mining reforms we are embarking on are well meant and meant to ensure a win-win outcome. The mining reforms will also examine how much is extracted from the ore that is exported,” said President Lungu.

“Those millionaires who ran copper mines in Zambia in the past must know that we are a sovereign state and we cannot succumb to their schemes to impose their stooges who they want to impose on this country.”