THE Zambian government has rejected a proposal by Glencore subsidiary Mopani Copper Mines (Mopani) to shut its operations, said Reuters citing a statement from Mopani.
Mopani restarted mining in May, and provided a 90-day notice period of its intention to place the operations on care and maintenance which it said was necessary owing to the twin pressures of a low copper price and the COVID-19 virus.
An earlier attempt to mothball the mines was opposed by the Zambia’s mines minister, Richard Musukwa, who threatened to revoke the firm’s mining licence.
Mopani said today it would appeal the Zambian government’s latest decision but would continue to operate pending the outcome of the appeal process.
“Mopani remains of the belief that the only way to protect the company’s value and preserve the option to deliver its growth projects when conditions further improve is to transition the operations to care and maintenance,” it said on Thursday.
Musukwa, said the government had made it clear from the beginning that it wants Mopani to continue. He added he was happy Mopani had “responded favourably” to his call not to place the mine under care and maintenance.
Musukwa said that Mopani has cut the number of expatriates working at the mine from 94 to 49 and the company will address concerns over what he described as its high cost of production. “We are open to dialogue because we want what’s best for the people of Zambia and Mopani is strategic to [our] economic trajectory,” he said.
Mopani Copper Mines, which produced 119,000 tons of copper in 2018, is 73.1% owned by Glencore, 16.9% by First Quantum Minerals and 10% by Zambia’s mining investment arm ZCCM-IH, said Reuters.