MINEWORKERS Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Joseph Chewe has attributed the 8 percent decline in copper production in the first quarter of 2022 to instability at both Konkola Copper Mines and Mopani Copper Mines.
According to the Zambia Chamber of Mines, Zambia recorded a total production of 176,742 tonnes of copper in the first quarter of 2022, down from 192,151 produced last year during the same period under review.
Asked whether the current happenings at KCM and Mopani had an impact on the decline in copper production in an interview, Thursday, Chewe responded in the affirmative.
He said the mines had been off track for some time, thus affecting production, jobs and revenue.
“Yes. These two are big mines; they have not even reached half of their production capacity so that is a major contribution. So that is why Mineworkers Union of Zambia has been saying can we bring these two mines on track for us to produce more copper. We have been calling for the bringing back of these two major mines on track because they have been off track for some time. And this is why we are not producing more, we are losing out on jobs, we are losing [out] on revenue and the opportunities that depend on these two giant mines,” Chewe said.
He urged the government to ensure that the two mines were brought back to their normal operational capacity.
“Without these two mines, it will be impossible to reach that projection. That is why it is the responsibility of government to quickly bring back these mines to production. I think that is our word on these two mines because FQM is producing well, Chinese mines are always up on production. So what we also want is we [do] not only need to depend on these two old mines, we need to look and operationalize new areas. I think that will be because we have got so many mining licenses that are sitting idle. I think we should be able to see another mine of big magnitude to be opened,” Chewe said.
And commenting on Kasenseli Gold Mine which was yet to be reopened, Chewe said the government needed to look at all the bottlenecks that led to the closure of the mine.
“It has to be opened. Since the discovery of gold there, we are yet to benefit from the production of gold. So all those bottlenecks that led to the closure of Kasenseli need to be looked at quickly and speedy,” said Chewe.