Mines Minister Richard Musukwa says government will not break the law in dealing with the challenges at the Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in Chingola but will do everything possible to ensure the interests of citizens are protected.

And Musukwa says looking for a different investor to inject money in KCM is another possible option since the mining company under Vendetta mineral resources has failed to recapatilise and operationalise the facility with fresh capital.

Speaking to News Diggers in an interview, Musukwa said the Zambian government was not mandated to run the mines but could only find strategic partners to work with its people in exploiting the country’s mineral resources.

“We have stakeholders such as the trade unions, Mine Workers Union of Zambia, NUMAWU and UMUZ, residents of Chilabombwe, residents of Chingola, including the member of parliament for Chingola. They have called on government to take a decisive decision against KCM, they have petitioned government and government is studying the petition which has been presented by these stakeholders. KCM has failed to bring in fresh capital to operationalise its facilities, making the entire mine a pure ghost mine because there is no activity that is going on and coupled with that, KCM has failed to deal with contractors and suppliers, they owe contractors and suppliers huge sums of money and they have even started in the recent past draconian ways of dealing with the workers such as suspension or job freeze which is an illegal act. Even the issue of conditions of service such as overtime, weekend allowance which deal directly with the workers have been done away with,” Musukwa explained.

“In short, KCM has shown signs of a company which is failing, a company which has no future. So in the light of what our people have said, government will be making a very emphatic and bold decision in the interest of our people, following the law. Government will not break the law in dealing with mining houses because we have a firm commitment of ensuring that we support investors and continue to attract foreign direct investment, but in doing so, we will not do it at the expense of our people. As you know, Zambia is a jurisdiction that has a stable, reliable and dependable fiscal mining regime which supports foreign investment in the mining sector and we would like it remain that way. But in doing so, it will not be done at the expense of our people.”

He said Zambians should not feel government is trying to takeover the mine.

“That is the problem which we have, which am told our Zambian people are always pessimistic. When there is a problem at KCM, you the journalists and the Zambian people have been asking government to act. Government is not going to run KCM or Mopani or indeed any other mining house. Government’s role is to ensure that we find a strategic partner to run and operate these mines, that’s the position of government,” said Musukwa.

“Government’s position is not to run the mines directly, our position is that we have vested our mining industries in the hands of investors, working together with our people and in an instance where we find a mining house which is failing the people of Zambia, we will not just be watching in order to impress a few people, no! Government will move in to ensure that the interests of the people of Zambia are protected. In short, government will always ensure that where we have mining houses that are failing to operate, government will look for an investor and in this case, government will look for a credible investor that will serve our people and our country.”