MOPANI Copper Mines says the decision to put the mine on care and maintenance starting tomorrow April 8, is as a result of the critical disruptions to international mobility, transportation and supply chains arising from COVID-19.
But government through the Minister of Mines Richard Musukwa has objected to the move by the mining company, daring the Glencore-owned mining giant to leave ‘if they have failed to run the mining operations in Zambia.”
However, the mining giant released a media statement late Tuesday afternoon stating that operating, regulatory and macro-economic environments remain very challenging and have continued to place significant pressure on the business.
Mopani assured that permanent Zambian employees, including those in management, would continue receiving their base salaries for the period the mine would be under care and maintenance.
“Mopani Copper Mines Plc held a number of meetings with Government Ministries on 6 April 2020 in which it provided an update of its comprehensive operational review. The operating, regulatory and macro-economic environments remain very challenging and have continued to place significant pressure on the business. In addition to the impacts of a rapid decline in the copper price, Mopani’s situation has been further impacted by the critical disruptions to international mobility, transportation and supply chains arising from COVID-19. Mopani has had to place a number of projects it was in the process of commissioning on hold until key personnel are able to travel to site,” reads the statement signed by public relations manager Nebert Mulenga.
“In the circumstances, and following consultation with its majority shareholder and funder, Mopani can no longer continue operating its mining operations and will transition those mining operations to care and maintenance (C&M) with effect from 8 April. Regarding the smelter and refinery, we currently have material on site which will continue to be processed until further notice. Mopani believes that the transition to C&M will help protect the company’s value and preserve the option to deliver our growth projects when market conditions improve.”
Mopani further stated that it would continue with its commitments and obligations to the workforce and host communities adding that it could continue engaging unions and government regarding the nature and duration of that support.
“…but we expect, permanent Zambian employees (excluding management) will be sent home on their base salary. Impacted unionised contractor employees will receive an ex gratia payment. This measure is over and above what is required by our contractual agreements. Employees and their dependents will continue to receive healthcare. Mopani will remain committed to its CSR projects,” stated Mopani.
“The health and safety of the workforce and surrounding communities is our top priority. Mopani will engage with its employees, contractors and local communities regarding the impact of any operational change. Mopani remains committed to supporting its community projects, hospitals and schools during the period of C&M. Mopani will work with the local authorities and community leaders on how best it can continue to support its partners in light of the government decrees relating to minimizing the spread of COVID-19.”