The unnecessary delays by Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to lift a protection order to allow for further construction works at Chisola Dam where First Quantum Minerals Ltd (FQM) is putting up a mine will lead to mass job losses.
According to impeccable sources ZEMA has been dillydallying for almost six months and it is therefore became apparent that FQM could no longer keep on paying people for doing nothing.
And in reacting to ZEMA delays in Lusaka yesterday FQM confirmed its planned downsizing of workforce of 500 at under-construction Sentinel Mine at Kalumbila in Solwezi.
Company spokesman John Gladston said the impending lay-offs at the mine were unavoidable because FQM could not sustain the current high workforce levels while it waited for ZEMA to lift a protection order that has prevented further construction works on the Chisola Dam.
The dam, Mr Gladston said, was a source of process water without which the under-construction Sentinel Mine could not operate at all.
He said the mining company had been left with no option as employees had not been able to work on the dam while ZEMA Protection Order was in force.
“This development is deeply regrettable. An estimated 500 workers will be served with termination notices in the coming days. Sadly, further rebalancing of the workforce may be required in the weeks ahead,” said Mr Gladston
Mr Gladston further stressed that FQM remained optimistic that the dialogue which it had been having with government would bring about a speedy resolution to safeguard the vast majority of the jobs.