Government through the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) has made progress in concluding the impasse regarding the Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).
The differences that had taken over two years has seen one of the country’s mining giants bringing its underground operations almost to halt.
The negotiations which include legal issues are expected to be concluded within three months before KCM can resume full operations.
Vedanta Resources has announced a new one billion United States dollars additional investment for the next five years to be used for paying creditors, 20 percent salary increment and investing in Social Corporate Responsibility among others.
Minister of Mines and Minerals Development, Paul Kabuswe announced at a media briefing in Lusaka today that progress had been recorded towards concluding negotiations to restore back full operations of KCM.
Mr Kabuswe explained that the government is committed to unlocking the potential of the mining industry in contribution to the economic development of the country.
He said it was against this background that the government was concerned that the impasse that surrounded the mining company that started in 2019 resulted in legal disputes.
He announced that ZCCM IH, Vedanta and government have since reached an agreement for Vedanta to return the majority shareholding in running KCM and resuscitate the operations of the three mines on the Copperbelt Province and that all cases before the courts have been dropped.
The Minister stated that the government has always opposed the liquidation route as a way of resolving the impasse that was faced at the mine.
Mr Kabuswe further said instead the government supported an amicable way which is going commercial in addressing the issues with the operators, for the benefit of all the interested stakeholders and the Zambian people.
He further explained that contrary to speculations that Vedanta has been given back to operate KCM, adding that the truth is that Vedanta never left but only halted its underground operations due to the disputes that were in the courts of law.
He also advised Vedanta to ensure that it starts on a new path and fulfill all the aspects of the agreement which is more centered on improving the welfare of the workers and communities in which the company operates from.
ZCCM IH Board Chairperson, Kakenenwa Muyangwa announced that negotiations for Vedanta to start full operations have advanced and are expected to be concluded within three months, after ensuring that all the agreed processes have been put in place.
Mr Muyangwa noted that among the agreed requirements is for the firm to improve its working operations, enhance its sustainability measures and operate its assets as a world class company thereby contributing positively to the country’s set target of three million copper production annually.
He added that both ZCCM-IH and Vedanta resources have agreed to withdraw all legal cases, and Vedanta will take over the management of KCM and the board will be reinstated.
And Vedanta Senior Manager Pushpendra Singla described the decision by the government as a millstone in the process of resolving all the disputes between parties.
Mr Singla said Vedanta Resources is ready to play its part in contributing to the government’s vision of attaining three million tonnes copper production every year for the next ten years.
And both the Mine Workers Unions and the Association of Mine Suppliers and Contractors of Zambia have praised the government for resolving the dispute with the mining company and outside court, stating that the decision will go a long way in uplifting the living standards of people in the three towns that the company operates from.
In 2019, KCM was placed under liquidation for allegedly breaching environmental and financial regulations.