GROUND Focus Mine yesterday announced that it will lay off 54 workers and cut copper oxide production by over 50 per cent by the end of this week due to massive power cuts and plummeting copper prices.
Ground Focus’ decision to cut production and lay off workers comes only two days after Chinese-owned Non-Ferrous Africa Mining Corporation cut production targets by 40 per cent following reduced power supply to the mine by 30 per cent.
The mine’s managing director Jimmy Mubashi said copper oxide production was getting to its knees because of the turbulence of the world financial market that had affected commodity prices, including copper.
Mubashi said the situation had been worsened by the huge economic challenges facing Zambia’s economy due to load-shedding.
“Mining demands continuous operations, and when operations are paralysed due to load-shedding, you start recording losses, and that’s what is happening. We are spending over K86,000 per week on fuel as a local mine to run generators and other machines and we have been operating like this for some time now. We can only do so much but the figures we are recording are getting worse by the day; they are terrible, they are no longer making sense. It’s all losses because of all these challenges. We regret that we are sending 54 workers home, it’s not our wish,” Mubashi said.
He said the buyers of copper oxide had also significantly reduced prices at the international and local market due to the economic depression.
Mubashi said cutting copper oxide production by over 50 per cent was extremely retrogressive for the local mining firm that had created employment for many people.
“Our desire is to see the company grow so that we can create as many jobs as possible for our people. It’s disheartening, we are sending some people home because we can’t afford to pay them; the situation we have found ourselves in is not allowing us to keep as many workers as we are supposed to. Those that will be laid off will be paid their dues in accordance with the law and their conditions of work. When we stabilise in future, we will call them,” Mubashi said.
He said there was need for the government and all stakeholders to work towards cushioning the financial depression and immediately sort out the challenge of outages.
“Let us not just continue lamenting that the past governments did not invest in power generation infrastructure. We must immediately do something about it because the whole economy will collapse,” warned Mubashi.