Glencore to shut Zambia copper mines

A copper mine in Zambia is shutting on Wednesday because of disruption brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Glencore’s Zambian subsidiary Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) will shutter its mining operations today but continue to process material it has on site in its smelter and refinery until further notice, the firm said in a statement.

“In addition to the impacts of a rapid decline in the copper price, Mopani’s situation has been further impacted by the critical disruptions to international mobility, transportation and supply chains.

MCM said it was engaging with Zambia’s government and unions about its commitments to the workforce.

The miner said it expects permanent Zambian employees, excluding management, will be sent home on their base salary while unionised contractors will receive an “ex gratia” payment.

But the Zambia’s Mining Minister Richard Musukwa said the government would block the mine shutdown that would put 11,000 jobs at risk.

MCM, which produced 119,000 tonnes of copper in 2018, is 73.1% owned by Glencore, 16.9% by First Quantum Minerals and 10% by Zambia’s mining investment arm ZCCM-IH.

Last month, an Environmental Justice Atlas case study alleges that Glencore’s Mopani copper mine in has caused air, water and soil pollution impacting the health and livelihoods of local communities.

While the case study alleges that the mine produces copper and cobalt, Glencore representatives highlight that Mopani only produces copper.