The Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings will soon appoint an evaluator to determine the value of Collum Coal Mine in Sinazongwe in Southern Zambia to assist resolve the stand off, sources close to the deal have said.
This follows a directive by mines energy and water development minister Christopher Yaluma to ZCCM IH to determine the actual value of the mine in which the Chinese-company is alleged to have over valued it and is seeking compensation.
The 12,000 tonnes per annum producer of the heating substance and chiefly used by the mines for production of various metals including cement, among other products, was shut down in February last year.
It was alleged to have among other concerns been flouting labour laws, poor safety and sanitary record at place of work and failure to remit taxes to Government.
The lack of emergency medical treatment facilities like ambulances let alone a first-aid station underground alleged failure to declare its mineral production as required for all mining companies under the Zambian law, compounded the situation prompting Government to shut down its operations, ultimately affecting over 500 workers operating at its two shafts.
There was no immediate comment from ZCCM IH Chief Executive Officer Mukela Muyunda as his phone went unanswered when contacted today by Zambian Mining news. However sources at both the ministry of mines, ZCCM IH and Chinese embassy in Lusaka and are close to the ongoing discussions said an evaluator has been found and will be tasked to find a lasting solution to the problem soon.
“A mining expert has been identified and should be able to take up the job by next week because the Government wants the matter to be resolved without further delay,”
Sources at the Chinese embassy said it was the desire of the foreign government to see to it that the matter is resolved amicably and that Chinese investors are willing to abide by the country’s labour and other related laws for continued bilateral relationship between the two countries.
.Recently Yaluma directed ZCCM Investment Holdings to urgently engage an independent evaluator to determine the actual asset price of the repossessed Collum Coal Mines and ensure the matter is resolved amicably.
Yaluma argued that the impasse has arisen because the mine owners were asking for more than what the Government believes is the true value, prompting an evaluator.
“They are asking for a huge sum,” Yaluma said recently.
“We believe it is not the true value of the assets, so we have asked ZCCM-IH to engage a private evaluator to determine the actual price, then we shall pay them and start looking for a strategic partner,”
However, despite the closure of the 5,000 per month coal prodcing company, Zambia’s second largest, the workers have continued getting paid despite the mine not having any production activities.
Recently, ZCCM-IH had indicated its desire to evaluate the company’s viability with intentions to re-open it, it said in a statement recently. ZCCM-IH was granted a small-scale mining licence for the Nkandabwe Mine by the ministry following the cancellation of the Collum licence in February 2013.
The survey was designed to establish baseline, elevations and other geodetic measurements including maintaining an accurate record of various underground tunnels and other mine features to facilitate a well-planned and safe mining project.
ZCCM-IH is an investments holding firm in which Government holds 87.6 percent shares and the remaining 12.4 percent shares are held by private investors.
Chinese mining companies have invested more than $1 billion in the industry but there have been some signs that animosity towards them may by growing as some Zambian workers accuse companies of abuses and underpaying.
However, the lack of safety at the mine has resulted in more than five Zambians dying with more than six being injured while at their places of work