Shutdown of the Mufulira smelter at MCM worries NDC 

By Staff Reporter

OPPOSITION National democratic Party (NDC) says the shutdown of the smelter at Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) Mufulira division for six months is unprecedented.

NDC chairman for labour, Joseph Chishala  told this morning that a routine shut down of such a facility was supposed to take between one to two months.

“ As a party, we want to know why the latest shut down will be unnecessarily too long. This unplanned maintenance schedule has caused a lot of anxiety among miners,” he said.

“As NDC, we demand a full report from Mopani Copper Mines management on assertions that the smelter at Mufulira is dilapidated and has broken down. We were informed that this dilapidation has been caused due to none maintenance of the state of the art facility. It was shocking that such a huge investment erected at a cost of over US$500 million only four years ago could break down”.

Chishila who is also member of parliament for Roan demanded a detailed reported on what could have necessitated the long shutdown.

“As  NDC Party  here in Copperbelt , we are worried that the shutdown will see hundreds of employees at both the concentrator and smelter being sent on forced leave. In this regard, we urge MCM management not to place the affected workers on half pay as is being speculated. The miners to be sent on forced leave should be entitled to full pay including all their allowances,” he said

Chishala said the unscheduled plant shut down at MCM Mufulira division has been caused purely by negligence on the part of management.

“Whilst we agree that the maintenance of the smelter will improve and enhance productivity, the long unplanned shut down is suspicious.  As NDC, we want to urge unions in the extractive sector to ensure that no miner working at the smelter is fired at MCM during this period. The unions on the other hand, should further ensure that they explain to their members what this shut down was  all about,” said Chishala.