The Engineering Institution of Zambia has backed government’s move to place Konkola Copper Mines under liquidation and has accused foreign owned mining firm of employing under qualified expatriate personnel without the requisite competences in sensitive key management and operational positions.
Institution president Engineer Sydney Matamwandi said at a media briefing that after extensive consultations with our senior members who had extensive hands-on experience in mining, they have identified six serious shortcomings with the mining operations under the control of KCM that we would like to share with the nation.
Engineer Matamwandi explained that mine dewatering which is an essential operation requirement was not being followed.
“The available evidence indicates significant negligence of this operation by the mining company. The threats and consequences of this omission are detrimental to the mining operations as well as to safety” he said.
He went on to say there is a serious backlog in the development of reserves which he said lead to a shortage of ore and feed into downstream operations, especially the smelters.
According to Matamwandi, equipment at KCM is obsolete resulting into inefficiencies and low output.
He revealed that the mining company had neglected skills transfer and development, heavily relying on expatriate personnel, an approach he said is unsustainable to the mine and the country at large.
Matamwandi further indicated that the mining company had neglected to complete the Konkola Deep project, resulting into serious shortage of feed into the smelter.
“The completion of this project would have added significant value to the mining company while creating sustainable employment for our citizens. The current situation is regrettable,” he said.
“The mining company has tended to deploy under qualified expatriate personnel without the requisite competences in sensitive key management and operational positions. This has worsened the inefficiencies and safety risks that are a result of low capitalization and poor levels of capital investment into the mines.”
Matamwandi said the Institution is, therefore, of the view that the above shortcomings must not be overlooked if the viability of the mining operation under the next investor is to be assured.
“Our Institution has commenced engagement with key stakeholders to discuss the above in detail as well as to assist in formulating a set of requirements that should be embedded into any agreement to be entered into with the potential investors, further hoping that the lessons learnt will guide our decision as a nation going forward,” said Matamwandi.