About 600 Mopani Copper Mines direct workers will lose their jobs by June 2019 as the company has failed to maintain Mindolo North shaft and Central shaft in Kitwe.

The three Unions (MUZ, NUMAW and UMUZ) said  Mopani Copper Mines had informed them that the company had invested in new state of the art technology in Mufulira and keeping the two old shafts in Kitwe would be costly on the company’s part.

The three unions said 600  workers and about 1,500 contractors would be affected as the company would be start shutting down it’s operations from June to October this year.

During a press briefing held at Katilungu House in Kitwe on Thursday, MUZ  president Joseph Chewe said MCM had found the two shafts in Kitwe too expensive to maintain.

“We had meetings with Mopani especially on the operation side and MCM late last month told us that there is a challenge in maintaining Mindolo North Shaft as well as Central shaft and that they will engage the government to look at the continuous operation of the two shafts,” he said.

He said retrenchment would be done in phases if MCM did not find other alternative areas where the 600  employees could be redeployed.

Chewe said all the three ministries (labour, Mines and Finance) had been informed of the mining company’s discision to shut down the two shafts.

“The government has put up a technical team that will be looking at the two shafts and give a report but the company has already taken it’s decisions and there is no need for them to give a detailed report and as the unions, we have also called for addition to the technical team that has been constituted to assess if really the two shafts have reached their life span or if their is no material left to mine because these shafts gave us jobs,” he said.

Chewe said closing the two shafts would be disastrous to the country as many miners would loose their jobs.

And NUMAW president James Chansa said investing in new equipment should not be done at the expense of the workers. 

Chansa said the benefits of mining copper should trickle down to the Zambians who are the custodians of the minerals.

“MCM has a good program which we as unions have agreed to move on because by 2023 MCM is targeting to be one of the world’s class producers of Copper in the world but investments should not be at the expense of jobs as it is bad investment,” said Chansa.