By SILUMESI MALUMO
DEFIANCE of the Government by Mopani was a criminal act and processes of taking legal action over its impudence, has commenced, Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development Permanent Secretary Barnaby Mulenga has said.
It was mandatory and enshrined in the law that Mopani, like any other mine should adhere to directives by the director of Mines.
Mr Mulenga said everything was happening fast but the processes, which were many, had commenced because it was criminal to disregard the Director of Mines who had enough powers under the law to take immediate appropriate action.
And a mining expert has advised government to revoke Glencore mining licence because it has completely failed to run Mopani Copper Mine.
Mr Edward Simukonda yesterday, Government should hold its ground and let Mopani hand over the Assets back to Government and the Zambian people.
Meanwhile, Mr Mulenga said Government would invoke article 111 of mines act so that Mopani could be fined or its management face a jail sentence for defying the director of mines because its action was criminal.
Article 111 states that a person commits an offence who, (a) fails, neglects or refuses to comply with any direction given under this Act (b) explores, retains a mineral deposit or mines otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of this Act; (c) removes or fails to remove any buildings, fixed machinery or other movable property contrary to the provisions of this Act; (d) removes or disposes of any mineral contrary to the provisions of this Act; or (e) places or deposits, or is accessory to the placing or depositing of, any mineral in any place with the intention to mislead any other person regarding the mineral possibilities of such place.
A person who (a) exports a radioactive mineral in contravention of subsection (1) of section fifty-nine or fails to comply with the terms or conditions of a permit issued under that section; (b) causes environmental damage contrary to this Act or any other written law; or (c) fails to rehabilitate a site or deal with potentially hazardous substances, erections or excavations in accordance with directions given in accordance with this Act; commits an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding one million penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or to both.
Mr Mulenga said sending employees on forced leave without consulting the director of mines was a serious crime.
He said in an interview yesterday, the law was clear and Mopani would face the wrath of the law for its careless actions.
Early this week Mopani management issued letters to employees to go on leave with immediate effect because it intended to place the mines in Mufulira and Kitwe on care and maintenance.
The mining giant said that it had decided to put the said mines on care and maintenance because it was making loses due to COVID 19 which had affected a number of economies.
But the decision by Mopani was rejected by the Minister of Mines and Mineral Development, stating that decision was illegal.
Mr Simukonda said in an interview yesterday, Mopani had been looking for a way to leave for a long time now and it’s not surprising that it had come up with lame excuse.
COVID 19 has not affected Mopani in any way and Government has given them a flexible ground on which they are operating on, he said.
“If you remember on the 20th of July 2019, I said that the Government should talk over Mopani as it was trying to arm twist Government by trying to shutdown Central and North shafts giving flimsy reasons. They were doing it hoping that Government could lose the case with KCM and they too would go Scot free.
“We should not forget that Mopani in the first place was not acquired at the right valve by Glencore that owns about 73 percent of the mine. Mopani is acting as the Devil’s advocate on behalf of Glencore and Ivan Glasenburg the CEO, through transfer taxes and by Glencore’s subsidiary companies trading in house cheaply among themselves, disadvantaging Zambia its rightful profits. Zambia’s deal with Glencore has been raw from inception and this is the right time to correct the situation and ask them to leave,” he said.
Our copper from Mopani is sold all over the world, Mr Simukonda said, and yet the paperwork ends up in Switzerland at the Glencore Head Office.
By SILUMESI MALUMO