Konkola Copper Mines in Chingola is reportedly making a lot of losses today for a variety of reasons. For this, the investors have been downsizing the mine’s workforce apparently in an effort to stay afloat.
Before what we are seeing coming out of Konkola Copper Mines today, the past years have witnessed serious problems in payment of suppliers and contractors at the mine that once was the pride of the Copperbelt and the country in general. Thousands of Zambians have lost direct and contract jobs due to Vedanta Resources’ lack of concern for their wellbeing and the country’s economy. These mining corporations have over the years mustered the art of arm-twisting governments such that whatever they demand is given to them, regardless of how ridiculous and detrimental such needs may be on the Zambian economy and the wellbeing of its people.
The genesis of the current hullabaloo from Konkola Copper Mine’s owners, Vedanta, is from the government’s announcement of new mine taxes aimed at increasing revenue for the country. Vedanta, just like others, cried the loudest at this new policy measure although we all know that they have more than enough capacity to pay rightful taxes to the Treasury. Remember that it is these same mines that boycotted payment of raised mineral royalties the other year because of a dispute they declared with the government! For how long will they play such tricks and expect the Zambian government and its people to lick their boots as if they are the small gods for this country?
In March 2014, Vedanta Resources chairman and majority owner Anil Agarwal boasted during the Jain International Organisation conference held in Bangalore, India, how he was making annual profits of around $500 million from Konkola Copper Mine which he bought for a paltry $25 million. Argawal further told this meeting that an extra $1 billion was being made from the Konkola Copper Mine and ridiculed then Head of State Levy Mwanawasa who “told the entire parliament that what great people we are, and our empire, and that they will make our lives gorgeous. And they will make schools, make hospitals and blah blah…” In a video which was circulated by activists from Foil Vedanta, Argawal told a large audience how he bought Konkola Copper Mines for just $25 million, rather than the asking price of $400 million, for which he received loud cheers after disclosing the $500 million annual profits being made from Zambia’s natural resource.
While Argawal was making these revelations, which tied up with Foil Vedanta’s figures from the mining corporation’s annual reports showing that the company made $362 million in 2013, then CEO Tom Albanese disputed these figures during his visits to Zambia that same year. He repeated the previous claim that KCM was making “a very low profit” or a loss due to high operational costs and taxes.
Five years on, Vedanta Resources is still making claims of not making any profits from Konkola Copper Mines. Who can believe such stories when Argawal revealed all that we wanted to hear – that they made a fortune out of our natural resource that we sold for a song? It is not possible! From this, it will be unfair for anyone to be expected to believe what is coming from the owners of KCM. They have made enough money and they can now afford to throw in the towel and mess our economy at every stage. They don’t care at all what becomes of the mine once they are done looting its resource. Before they completely mess it up, let the government quickly move in and find suitable investors who will appreciate the natural resource on that mine and agree to pay a reasonable amount for it without playing arm-twisting games the Vedanta way!