Glencore’s Mopani Copper Mines PLC, has informed the Zambian government it is putting its mines in Kitwe and Mufulira on the Copperbelt province under care and maintenance.
The move by Mopani has prompted the Zambian government to dispute the reasons the mining giant has advanced to justify the latest shutdown notice and instructed the company to reconsider its decision.
On its part, Mopani Copper Mines PLC has cited the COVID-19 pandemic, global economic challenges which have led to the copper price falling to about $4,800 per tonne and the disruption to international movement due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Zambia’s Mines and Minerals Development Minister Richard Musukwa, has alleged that Mopani Copper Mines is using the coronavirus out break to cease operations in Zambia.
Musukwa said the reasons advanced by Mopani for placing its mines in Kitwe and Mufulira under care and maintenance are very inconsistent with what they said in a recent video conference which they had with government officials.
The Minister urged Mopani Copper Mines management to rethink their decision to place the Nkana and Mufulira mines on care and maintenance and open dialogue to find solutions to the challenges the company is facing.
Musukwa explained that the reasons advanced by Mopani Copper Mines to place the mines on care and maintenance fail far beyond the provisions of the law.
Nebert Mulenga, public relations manager, Mopani Mopani Copper Mines PLC, said: “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 with effect from April 8,2020.”
Mulenga added that the smelter and refinery currently has material on site which will continue to be processed until further notice. “Mopani believes that the transition to care and maintenance will help protect the company’s value and preserve the option to deliver our growth projects when market conditions improve,” he said.
Mopani Copper Mines PLC is 73.1% owned by Glencore, 16.9% equity by First Quantum Minerals and a 10% stake held by state-owned mining company ZCCM-IH.