Mines Minister Richard Musukwa says protesting residents of Chiliabombwe and Chingola are justified to ask KCM under Vendetta minerals to go, charging that the once mining giant of Copperbelt has failed to operationalise its investment.
And Musukwa has asked Mopani Copper Mines to handover it’s Central and North Shafts in Kitwe to local contractors who will be able to run the two mining sites profitably instead of putting then on care and maintenance.
In an interview with News Diggers in Lusaka, Musukwa explained that government was fed up with KCM’s commitments to recapitalise its operations, which did not bear fruit.
“The concerns and demands from the people of Chililabombwe and Chingola against KCM are genuine. Their patience and that of government has run out because they keep on giving commitments over recapitalising the operations, which do not bear fruit. So the people are tired. And the sufferings of people in our communities is evident. For several months, KCM has failed to operationalise the KDMP project in Chililabombwe and also to invest in the underground operations in Chingola. So in the process, they have failed to pay contractors and suppliers and they have also neglected the licence conditions that we have given to exploit the resource in Konkola. So clearly, this is a failure on the part of the investors and the local residents of Chiliabombwe are justified to call for Vendetta to go,” Musukwa said.
He added that government would make a more decisive position on KCM once it studies the petition from Chingola and Chililabombwe residents.
“As government, we will study their demand and act within the law. And in this regard, government will ensure that the interest of our people is protected. Our people are our masters because they are the people who vote for us and not those mining houses. So since the people who are suffering are our people, they must be protected …So the demand by the stakeholders and our people is genuine because KCM has failed, even when we have called several times to persuade them to bring in fresh capital to inject in the operations, they don’t do that,” Musukwa said.
Meanwhile, Musukwa demanded that Mopani Copper Mines reduces its profit margin and share with the people of Zambia in terms of development.
“The decision by Mopani to put on care and maintenance Central Shaft and North Shaft is misplaced. First of all, you will note that the suspension of operations at these two shafts is coming from the accidents that happened at Central Shaft, so clearly I have a lot of misgivings in terms of the decision that Mopani is giving around these issues in terms of very critical issues, especially to do with transparency. That’s why government sent a team of mining engineers, geologists and surveyors to go and ascertain the demands and the issues that Mopani was raising,”said Musukwa.
“So we are studying the matter. And in the meantime, government has directed that Mopani must surrender North Shaft and Central Shaft to our local Zambian contractors instead of putting them on care and maintenance. We believe that with the experience that resides in our local contractors, they should be able to exploit this resource profitably and the ministry will approve a mine plan which will be anchored on safety in order for these resources to be exploited. Mopani must reduce the profit margin and share with the people of Zambia in terms of development. They should not just use our people like that.”