GOVERNMENT will constitute a team of experts to conduct a forensic audit on the mines to ascertain the impact of low copper prices on the international market and power deficit on their operations.
Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Christopher Yaluma said in an interview yesterday that a forensic audit of the mines is necessary to enable Government to establish the impact of low copper prices and the power deficit.
Mr Yaluma said Government is sympathetic to the citizens, who have lost jobs in the mines and that it is doing everything possible to keep the miners in employment.
“We are putting up a team to conduct a forensic audit on all the mines to assess the impact of low copper prices and power deficit on their operations. We know that they are facing those challenges, but we need to do our own audit,” Mr Yaluma said.
The minister said low copper prices on the international market should not be used as an excuse by mining companies to downsize their workforce because it is something Government has no control over.
Mr Yaluma said the problem is global in nature and that using it to retrench workers will not be in line with Government’s policy of creating jobs for the Zambian people.
According to the London Metal Exchange (LME), copper prices are fixed at US$ 4,685 per tonne. This is according to information obtained from the website: www.lme.com.
And according to Mining.com, Chile mining giant Codelco chief executive Nelson Pizarro has cut almost 3,900 jobs, including contractors, in response to low prices and weak demand for copper.
Until now, the world’s top copper producer had only disclosed the lay-off of about 400 employees, mostly staff members in top positions.
The fresh and massive cuts bring the number of lay-offs to over 4,000, making Codelco the mining company that has let go the highest amount of workers in Chile since metal prices began their decline over a year ago.
According to Mr Pizarro, the “painful, but necessary” move has not affected production, local newspaper El Mercurio reports (in Spanish). “What’s more, the company’s output has grown 5.5 percent during the last year, and costs have dropped by about 11 percent,” he told the paper.