Power and Politics

EFF leader, Mwenda, calls for review of mining regulations as Konkola Copper Mines crisis persists


The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party leader, Kasonde Mwenda, has called on the government to conduct a thorough review of existing mining regulations and enforce stricter compliance to prevent future crises like the one looming at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in the Copperbelt Province.

In a statement issued in Lusaka on Sunday, Mwenda said Zambia was at a critical crossroads, with the potential loss of 13,000 jobs at one of the country’s largest employers, as confirmed by Provisional Liquidator Celine Nair.

This situation arose as creditors and Vedanta prepare for a Lusaka High Court-sanctioned meeting to determine KCM’s fate, currently in liquidation.

“This crucial meeting will focus on how highly indebted Vedanta Resources plans to address the outstanding debts owed by KCM to its creditors,” Mwenda stated.

He noted that the outcome of this meeting would decide whether KCM would shut down through liquidation or resume operations.

Nair explained that a report on the outcome of these meetings would be submitted to the High Court.

“If the scheme is not approved or sanctioned, the company will proceed into final liquidation, meaning the mine will be closed,” Mwenda added.

Mwenda pointed out that a separate creditors’ meeting for those owed below US$1 million had already taken place, while the decisive meeting for creditors owed over US$1 million was scheduled for May 30, 2024.

Read More: Vedanta reportedly seeking fundraising options, including selling stake in KCM

He said significant preconditions for Vedanta’s full return to KCM, include a US$250 million settlement of accrued debts to local businesses and a US$1 billion investment over the next five years.

“Vedanta Resources had pledged to inject over US$1.3 billion into mine recapitalization, US$250 million to clear off debt owed by KCM and US$20 million for corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs,” Mwenda said, noting that these promises had not yet been actualisef by Vedanta Resources Limited.

Mwenda advised the government to develop a comprehensive support plan for the 13,000 employees potentially facing job losses, including re-employment programmes and financial assistance.

“Collaborate with labor unions to ensure that workers’ rights and benefits are protected during the transition,” he proposed.

Additionally, Mwenda urged the government to ensure accountability and transparency by insisting that Vedanta provided a clear, actionable plan detailing how and when it will fulfill its financial commitments.

He also stressed the need to strengthen local businesses by ensuring that the US$250 million settlement was promptly and fairly distributed to local businesses owed by KCM.

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