The Zambian Government has opened talks with mining companies over the controversial mineral royalty tax, on the eve of the Barrick Gold Corporation embarking on the process to suspend operations at Lumwana mine in Solwezi.
However, acting president Guy Scott has maintained Zambia will not be intimidated by some mining firms threatening to pull out of the country following the review of the new tax rate.
“We are discussing with the mining companies on how money should be shared with workers, government and the mining firms,” local media quoted Scott as saying.
If successful the talks will avert an impending discharge of more than 4,000 workers at the mine in Zambia’s Northwestern Province.
On Sunday Justice Minister and PF presidential candidate Edgar Lungu said in a television interview, Government was open to dialogue insisting that the state was looking to a win-win situation.
Barrick Gold of Canada with substantial investment at Lumwana announced on December 19 intentions to suspend operations ant Lumwana effective january 1, after Parliament approved a 2015 budget proposal to increase open pit mining mineral tax from six to 20 per cent.
The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has implored Government to be flexible over the matter while its affiliate, the miners’ union called for dialogue between the two parties. Chief Mumena in whose area the mine is located has also appealed for dialogue.