Mine betrays Zambia, Congo

HUNDREDS of mine jobs may be in serious jeopardy if Glencore which owns Mopani Copper Mine (MCM) in Zambia and Kolwezi  in DR Congo suspends operations  which will result in the removal of  400,000 tonnes of copper from the market.

Glencore has revealed that the suspension is intended to reduce the company’s indebtedness from $30 to $20billion.

In DR Congo Glencore plans to shut down production of copper  and cobalt at its Katanga Mine in Kolwezi for 18 months due to what it calls “ challenging commodities environment.”

According to a statement by chief executive officer Ivan Glasenberg and chief financial officer Steven Kalmin the company has been hard hit by the decline in copper prices and hence wishes to suspend operations in Zambia and DR Congo.

It is feared that the suspension may result in the retrenchment of thousands of jobs in Zambia and Congo DRC mines.

Asked  for a comment Mopani Copper Mines public relations manager Cephas Sinyangwe said Mopani was undertaking a study to optimize operations as well as capital expendinture in the current financial climate.

Mr Sinyangwe said the exercise will take some time and was being done in consultation with all key stakeholders.

But the Mine Workers Union of Zambia has warned that it would not take kindly to unilateral layoffs.

And Mine Workers Union of Zambia President(MUZ) Nkole Chishimba said  miners , were not  like passengers on a Public Transport Vehicle who are carried without being consulted on how the vehicle will move.

He said most mining companies put workers on recess without consulting them through their unions.

Mr Chishimba, who is Zambia Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) president, was reacting to the closure of Baluba Mine where 1,640 jobs of  miners have been put on hold. Glencore is also planning to suspend operation in Zambia and Congo. “Miners have a union and before any mining company takes a decision of putting its workers on recess or on redundant, there is a procedure to follow. They should consult the union, may be the union can have a better option than laying off workers.

“As a union,we heard rumours about the closure of Baluba mine, but we were not officially informed by the management at the company. Unions are stakeholders and should be consulted on a number of issues. Workers should not be treated like passengers, but should be actively involved in decision making,” Mr Chishimba said.

The MUZ Chief also advised mining companies against using the challenges of low copper price, Load-shedding and the depreciating of the Kwacha as the reasons for closing down their operations or sending miners on redundancy or recess.

He said MUZ was aware that some mining companies had for a long time been planning to reduce their workforce, but they had no genuine reasons to do so, but now there were trying to use the low copper price, the depreciating of the Kwacha and the Load-shedding as the reasons  to reduce their workforce.

“We are a labour movement and our strength depends on our membership. So we get concerned if we lose even one job of our member. So these development where today we hear of redundancies, there other day workers being sent on recess is really worrying. “We must be concerned because we are losing membership. So mining companies should not take advantage of the low copper price, Load-shedding and the depreciating of the Kwacha to send people on redundancy or recess,” He said. He said MUZ wanted to know whether those who are being put on recess would be re-called after the Kwacha gains against the Dollar,  the low copper prices on the World Market picks up and the Load-shedding is reduced. “Low copper prices on the World Market, Load-shedding and the depreciating of the Kwacha are passing phases and so we want to know as a union whether if these things come to pass, mining companies will recall those sent on redundancy and on recess,” He said.

Last year Glencore suspended Zambia copper projects over tax row.

But Mines Minister Christopher Yaluma said Glencore had not officially communicated to government its intentions as required under Zambian law and that therefore its move was illegal

Glencore also runs zinc operations at its Sable Zinc Kabwe mine where it planned to lay off  close to 170 workers.

But the company’s plans have angered the Zambian Government which has declared the move illegal as those intentions were not officially communicated as required under Zambian laws.

Mines minister Christopher Yaluma told Reuters that that since they had not officially communicated their intentions to  Government as required under the Zambian law, the move was illegal.

The company has complained that copper prices last month reached a six year-year low and prospects for recovery were still a matter of speculation.

… as Glencore shares soar more than 10pc

SHARES in mining and commodities trading giant Glencore soared more than 10 per cent on Monday after the group unveiled plans to cut its debt up US10 billion in response to a brutal sell off in raw materials.

Investors reacted positively to the news, sending Glencore shares up almost 12 per cent before paring gains a touch to trade 9 percent higher than at about  US$204.


In a statement, the London- listed firm said it would issue up to US$2.5 billion of new shares, cut dividends, sell assets and look to sell a stake in its agricultural unit.

In addition Glencore said it would suspend its copper  operations in the DR Congo and Zambia for 18 months which would remove more han 400,000 tonnes of copper off the market.

On the London Metal Exchange (LME) copper prices  fell in early trade, with three-month copper down more than 2 per cent at US$5,120 a tonne.

Bank of  America Merrill Lynch upgraded the compnay’s rating to neutral following the plan’s unveiling.

“Unlike other management teams in the sector, Glencore has acknowldged its debt problem  andis taking steps to address it.” The bank said in a note.

“We think the plan goes some way to addressing some of our concerns in Glencore’s financing, we do still have a question mark on Chinese demand and hence (only) an upgrad to Neutral.Even after the reductions, the company wull still be quite highly heared,” the note said.