Zambia President in talks over threatened copper/cobalt closures

24 December 2008 | 04:18 Code : 18451 Geoscience events
Zambian President Rupiah Banda on Saturday held talks with officials of Luanshya...

Zambian President Rupiah Banda on Saturday held talks with officials of Luanshya Copper Mine over a threat to abandon its copper unit, weeks after suspending building of a $354 million mine, a government official said on Saturday.LCM said last month it had suspended building the Mulyashi copper mine for four months from October this year, while it reviews the copper recovery process and re-examines the project’s viability in view of falling global metals prices.On Saturday chief government spokesman Ronnie Shikapwasha said Zambia was looking to find solutions to the company’s operational problems."They have problems selling their copper and we will only know of the other issues affecting their operations once the president briefs us after the meeting," Shikapwasha told Reuters.LCM, a joint venture of International Mineral Resources and Bein Stein Group Resources, started to develop the Mulyashi project early this year with plans to reach peak copper output at 96,000 tonnes in the next few years.LCM operates the Baluba copper mine and Chambishi cobalt mine, Zambia’s largest cobalt producer.Foreign mining companies operating in Zambia have complained declining copper prices and the government’s introduction of new mining taxes, including a 25 percent windfall tax.Zambia raised mineral royalties to 3 percent from 0.6 percent, corporate tax to 30 percent from 25 percent and also introduced a 15 variable profit tax on income above 8 percent of total sales.The move prompted threats of litigation by the mines, who accused the government of reneging on development agreements it signed with them to maintain lower taxes.Copper is Zambia’s economic lifeblood and the mines are also a major employer in this southern African country of 12 million people.

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