KONKOLA Copper Mine’s major contractor China Jianxi JCHX has suspended operations at the mine in Chingola demanding payment of millions of kwacha it is owed.
And sources at KCM have revealed that the company owes suppliers, contractors and other institutions over US $250 million, causing the Vedanta controlled mine to struggle even with payment of salaries.
Over 490 workers at China Jianx have been ordered to stop mining operations until KCM pays them.
“We have not necessarily pulled out of KCM, we have just suspended operations for two weeks because KCM is owing us millions which I can’t tell you now. They haven’t met their obligations for close to nine months now,” China Jianxi JCHX corporate affairs manager Gilbert Chanda said in a brief interview yesterday, but said they had engaged KCM to find the way forward.
Mineworkers Union of Zambia general secretary Joseph Chewe said the challenges facing KCM must be approached with sincerity and management must tell the truth on what was going on.
“Downing of tools or protests by workers from various contractors has become the order of the day at KCM. We cannot continue like that. That’s one of the largest mining operations in the world and it is expected to contribute significantly to the growth of Zambia and particularly in areas where it operates such as Chingola but unfortunately, the opposite is what is happening. We earlier appealed to government to keep a close eye on what is happening at KCM and we still demand that we collectively act for the betterment of the mine, the workers and the nation,” Chewe said.
And source at KCM yesterday said the mine was slowly folding, with key operations being stopped under the watch of the government.
“People lose jobs every day…many managers have left KCM because there seems to be no future. The owners, Vedanta Resources, are not pumping money in capital projects. Mining is about mineral development and KCM is not willing to do that. And that’s why the Nchanga Underground is still shut. That mine still has minerals but the investor has not pumped in money,” said the source.
“The suppliers, contractors and other business entities are owed about US $250 million. There is no mine that can be viable and meet the expectations of stakeholders with huge liabilities.”