Zambia moves to protect mineworkers

Lusaka – Zambia has instituted measures to minimise job cuts in its mining industry as the country reviews various laws governing operations of the sector.
The measures come on the back of recent reports that foreign miners will slash their workforce for operational reasons.
Recently, Vedanta Resources-owned Konkola Copper Mines, Zambia’s leading producer of the red metal, tried to lay off 2 000 of its plus-8 000 labour force as a cost-saving measure.
Effective July 1, all miners will be compelled at law to declare their profits and output.
The government had already put in place regulations requiring foreign-owned companies to bank locally before expatriating any revenues.
Mines Deputy Minister Ronald Chitotela said in addition, the government had established a taskforce comprising mining experts to oversee the operations of miners and ensure job security.
He said while the government appreciated the challenges facing industry and mining in general, the state would not stand by while people were retrenched.
“We have picked a team of mine experts to advise mining companies and government where challenges arise and it is our hope that we shall find amicable solutions to these problems unlike laying off workers on the basis of a company facing problems,” Chitotela told journalists in Lusaka.
The experts will engage mining companies and advise on how best to overcome the challenges they are facing, Chitotela explained.
Konkola Copper Mines chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj recently met with the labour unions and government representatives over its planned retrenchments.
Janakaraj said they would halt the lay-offs and reaffirmed Konkola’s continued commitment to operate in Zambia.
“When we took over the mine in 2004, our strategic target was to secure the life of the mine and we have successfully extended the mine life by another 25 years…
“We have a long-term view of our investments here in Zambia, we are here to stay. KCM is not the type of business where you arrive today, you make all the profits and leave the next day.”
Janakaraj added, “The bulk of the resources get ploughed back in. KCM is the only company that has paid out … dividends compared to the level of investments, this goes to show that we are not here for a rip-off but for a long-term partnership with the Zambian government and all the mine stakeholders.”
Janakaraj also dismissed claims that Konkola had outsourced jobs to Indians and yet there were Zambians capable of filling those roles.
He said to date around 200 non-Zambians had ever worked for Konkola out of the 20 000 people who had been employed at the mine in one capacity or another since 2004.
“…we also have KCM-trained Zambian workers working as expatriates at other KCM operations in Australia, India and South Africa,” Janakaraj added.
He also denied that Konkola was involved in transfer pricing and said concurrent listing on foreign bourses actually improved transparency.

June 2013
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