Association of Mines Supplies and Contractors (AMSC) president Augustine Mubanga says association members don’t care which investor government engages to takeover Konkola Copper Mines, as long as the new owners secure jobs for the local people and increase business opportunities for Zambians in the supply chain to the mines.

And Mubanga said his association feels government has been transparent in the handling of the KCM issues, adding that Chinese investors were welcome to takeover the mine because they had a good investment track record in Zambia.

He added that Vedanta Resources was not wanted because it had failed to meet its obligations to the mine.

In an interview with News Diggers! Mubanga said it did not matter whether the Chinese took over the operations of KCM provided they respected local sub-contractors and mine suppliers.

“We are looking for investors who are going to protect, secure jobs and increase business opportunities for Zambians and help in the supply development chain. That it is the investor we are looking for. It doesn’t matter whether the Chinese will be the investor, as long as they are able to meet all these aspirations, including Cooperate Social Responsibility. KCM is a very big unit and a lot of people from Chililabombwe, from Chingola, Kitwe and Nampundwe are highly expectant of the investor. In fact the equity partner that is going to come on board, we should look at it from that perspective, whether the Chinese will be the ones to meet those requirements and increase business volumes for Zambians,” Mubanga said.

“When you see Zambian contractors making noise when KCM failed to pay, it simply demonstrates that majority of suppliers and contractors in KCM are Zambians up to maybe 90 per cent. So that is why if KCM didn’t pay, it had huge impact on the company and the community where this companies are coming from. So that scenario will continue, even now as the KCM is under liquidation. Zambians are the ones giving support to this company a lot of Zambians have forgone pushing for their payment but opted to support the company that it doesn’t go down. That cannot go without being noticed. So it doesn’t matter who the next investor will be but as long as they abide by the rule of justice to ensure that those that have been supporting KCM through and through are considered. At some point they must also be recognised and appreciated so we don’t want an investor who will come and change the status quo,”

Asked whether the Chinese had a good track record to take over KCM, Mubanga said that as long as they had a good negotiating team

“You know what matters is that when you have a very good negotiating team and it puts on the table what must be done, and whoever takes over leadership or management of KCM begins to obey and follow through all the agreements you have put on the table, I don’t think that must be a problem, the problem that we have is we are talking from a position of inadequacy where we feel we are very inadequate and we cannot manage to get what is right for Zambians. I am sure President Edgar Lungu has put up a very good team that must be able to bring out the interest of Zambians first. We don’t want to go into the same scenario that KCM was, where people were not being paid”.

And Mubanga said the liquidation process of KCM was very transparent as far as his association was concerned.

“The liquidation is very transparent. First and foremost, some of those issues are before the court, liquidation is about winding up the company, so if the company is winding up who determines it? Who directs the winding up? It is the shareholders, the creditors those that are owed, those are the ones who speak of the interest so that they don’t lose out. But the scenario with KCM is different because we cannot close such a unit and say ‘just because they failed to run the mine, let’s go home and sleep’ no!. There is an issue of sustainability, we need to ensure that the company continues to attract potential buyers. So how do we make it attractive? It is to revamp operations,” Mubanga said.

“You have seen how the liquidator has been moving up and down looking for investors to make sure that the mine you know gets on its feet, as we are talking right now the smelter is working, so it is from that where you get attraction from,.”

Mubanga further said Vedanta had failed to run KCM and his association was happy that they were chased.

“Vedanta failed! This is why we support this move of putting KCM under liquidation, Vedanta failed in 2014, when they promised that they were going to inject one billion dollars they promised in the same year in Cape Town, I was there attending the Mining Indaba. I had a chat with Tom Albanese he even confirmed, he assured us that he had everything [needed] to revamp the operations in KCM. And in August the same year, they were here and met the Head of State and they assured the president (the late President Michael Chilufya Sata) in 2015. It was the same story, in 2017 it was the same story and in 2019 same story. So over the years they have lost their capital, they were gripping the mines, they have destroyed the mines, so for us to put this mine under liquidation is the right thing,” explained Mubanga.

“And finding an equity partner who should be able to increase the volume of government not really to sell 79 per cent shares to the investor that would make ZCCM-IH not have a voice but calling for someone to be an equity partner to ensure that things are done in an appropriate manner, so there is no need to fear who the investor will be. Whether Chinese or Pakistan it is up to us the people of Zambia to say what we want from KCM.”