Message Jeu 11 Sep 2014 15:34

improvements at KCM thrill Yaluma

MINES minister Christopher Yaluma says Vedanta Resources Plc is showing firm commitment and goodwill owing to KCM’s improved operational performance.

Last February, Vedanta, Konkola Copper Mines’ parent company, made several commitments in a Business Improvement Plan (BIP) to revitalise operations.

The BIP was committed in writing to help KCM raise fresh liquidity to the extent of US$250 million for meeting operational requirements and settling out overdue creditors.

Last June, Yaluma said Vedanta had already settled about US$100 million at the time of their meeting in February, and that the firm was bound to report on performance benchmarks on a quarterly basis to ensure it fulfills its commitments and turn around its fortunes.

But Yaluma said judging from what had been achieved so far, he was convinced that KCM was showing goodwill and commitment against their BIP.

“I recently sent technocrats back to the mine to verify a few things from the operations point of view. Their production has been rising and they are going in the right direction. This is not being portrayed, it is something I have seen,” Yaluma said in an interview in Lusaka.

He said job security for workers at the firm had also improved with some having been upgraded from temporary to permanent status.

“We have also told them never to retrench any of the employees, and to our satisfaction, they went ahead and converted 250 out of 280 temporary employees to permanent [status] so 30 are outstanding and I am looking forward to see if they have converted the remaining 30 when I meet them next time; so there is commitment and goodwill,” Yaluma said.

He also said KCM had made progress in paying off local contractors, which were among some of its liabilities.

“On paying off the outstanding debt to local contractors, they have paid US$62 million up to our last meeting, and I think by now, they must have offset the other amount,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yaluma, who last week attended the ‘African Down-under’ mining conference in Perth, Western Australia, said an agreement had been reached between the two countries for knowledge and skills transfer to improve mining safety standards in the country.

“The premier of Western Australia [Colin Barnett] has offered to allow skilled people who have worked in the mines to be seconded to Zambia and transfer their expertise to Zambians, mostly those working in the mining and safety department, which is something we are lacking,” said Yaluma.