Zambia says may take over closed copper mines

Zambia may take over copper mines that have closed down as a result of the global financial crisis following calls by miners' unions to do so, President said.

Zambia says may take over closed copper mines

Zambia may take over copper mines that have closed down as a result of the global financial crisis following calls by miners' unions to do so, President Rupiah Banda said on Wednesday.

Officials of the powerful Mine Workers Union of Zambia (Muz) and the National Union of Mining and Allied Workers (Numaw) have asked the government to take over the Luanshya Copper Mine (LCM), which was placed under care and maintenance in December.

The unions say they want a temporary government takeover before other investors are found.

Zambia, Africa's largest copper producer, faces economic uncertainty in the wake of a sharp drop in copper and cobalt prices. Some foreign firms have close down mining operations in the southern African country and laid off many of workers.

"It is one of the options we are discussing," Banda said when asked by reporters from state media on calls for the government to take over the mines which close down.

Banda was speaking in Lusaka late on Tuesday before leaving for northern Zambia.

LCM, which operates the Baluba copper mine and Chambishi Metals Plc, Zambia's largest copper producer, halted work in November citing operational difficulties as a result of the global economic crisis. It also suspended the $354 million Mulyashi copper project, which had been due to start producing 60,000 tonnes of copper in 2010.

LCM is a joint venture of the Swiss-based International Mineral Resources and Bein Stein Group Resources of Israel.

Copper mining is Zambia's economic lifeblood and the mines are a major employer in this southern African country of 12 million people, and accounts for about 63 per cent of the country's export earnings.

Reuters
Last Mod: 08 Ocak 2009, 12:28
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