Operations at Kalumbila Mine in Solwezi, Zambia’s newest copper mine, have been paralysed following a protest by workers over a funeral grant for their deceased colleague.
The protest was reportedly sparked by First Quantum Minerals (FQM) refusal to award a funeral grant for the deceased worker at the mine which is about 130km from Solwezi in Northwestern Zambia.
North Western Province Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga was quoted in the local media as saying the protest began on Monday and continued on Wednesday.
Malupenga said unionised workers “downed tools” following a failed demand to have a funeral grant for their deceased colleague.
He said the protest had continued despite attempts by the company’s human resources department to discourage the workers.
The workers are said to have insisted on ending the protest on condition that they were addressed by Kalumbila Mine general manager who was reportedly in South Africa.
But FQM Zambia head of government relations John Gladstone said the protest had no impact on the mine’s operations.
“It has absolutely no impact at all. We are at construction phase. Senior management has engaged the MUZ (Mineworkers’ Union of Zambia) representatives,” he was quoted as saying.
According to him, the deceased miner died from “natural causes”.
Gladstone said unionised workers took advantage of their colleague’s death to demand other conditions pertaining to education schemes.