Zambia: Govt sets up team of experts to ensure mining survives & sustains production beyond the Covid-19

Author: Zambia Daily Mail, Published on: 20 May 2020

‘Zambia needs long-term plan on mines’ 18 May 2020

GOVERNMENT’S constitution of a team of Cabinet ministers, technical experts and trade unionists to look at the sustainability of the mining sector during and beyond COVID-19 is not only timely, but visionary too. For many decades, Zambia has relied on the mining sector as a major contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP). This is obviously because the country is richly endowed with mineral resources. However, it is worrying that this sector, which anchors the Zambian economy, has been at the centre of controversies and uncertainties.

It is saddening that many times when the sector is faced with challenging situations, mine owners rush to halting operations by means of care and maintenance at the expense of the huge workforce and the economy as a whole. Not that we do not understand and appreciate the fact that they are in business, but even as they are, we assume they know that they have a huge moral obligation. And now that the sector, like many others, has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, the future is even more uncertain. Recently, Mopani Copper Mines, against Government’s position, went ahead to halt operations in Mufulira and Kitwe, sending over 11,000 workers home after citing the effects of COVID-19.

No doubt, COVID-19 has adversely affected the mining sector, like many other facets of life. However, opting out and laying off workers should not always be a quick way out. Mines and technocrats, in particular, should always endeavour to look at the bigger picture. Mine owners should always aim at finding win-win solutions as opposed to dumping workers as though they never add any value to their operations. It is, therefore, commendable that Government is alive to this fact and has constituted a team comprised of ministers of Mines and Mineral Development, Finance, and Labour and Social Security, and experts such as geologists, mining engineers, metallurgists and lawyers. The team’s mandate is to look at ways to ensure the mining sector survives and sustains production beyond the global pandemic.

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