By KENNEDY MUPESENI in Kasama -
THE Government has urged Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) to accept the revised electricity tariffs to stabilise the mining sector and warned Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) against outsourcing labour without conclusive consultations.
Mines Minister Christopher Yaluma told a media briefing in Kasama that the mining company should acknowledge the new tariffs.
“First Quantum has signed acknowledging the new tariff and they have accepted to pay, falling back to January, which is a very good development for both Government and the company.
“As it stands, we met with Mopani and First Quantum to discuss the power issue, now as for Mopani what we anticipated to come through never came through which suggests that there must be some developments at Mopani as regards to acknowledgement of the new tariff,” Mr Yaluma said.
He said the Government through Zesco wanted to get a fair share of the power being consumed by the industry while attracting independent power producers in the power industry.
Mr Yaluma said for some time, the power utility company has been charging almost five cents per kilowatt, which he said was not economical to help utilities sustain operations.
“As at now, capital for expansion is tied in that when reviewing the tariffs we consulted the mining houses individually, a committee of ministers went round talking to the mines and so far five mining houses had agreed and are adhering to that.
“Mopani had accepted, but later withdrawn, First Quantum did not sign, but we negotiated on Wednesday which led to signing, we are not here to force anybody but to get a fair share, so I would request Mopani to reconsider acknowledging the new tariff,” Mr Yaluma said.
He said the Government was doing everything possible to ensure that the cost tariff study was in place before the end of the year.
Mr Yaluma retaliated that the Government would not like to see retrenchments in the mining sector being of the painful experience the country went through.
On KCM, he said the Government would not entertain outsourcing of labour saying it would be a sad affair.
He said the Government would only allow outsourcing critical labour into the country in consultation with labour unions, his Ministry and that of labour.
Mr Yaluma has since asked KCM not to sign an agreement with anybody until it was clarified with his Ministry, Labour and unions.
He said KCM should approach the Government for discussions as it would not allow outsourcing.