Barrick Lumwana Mine in Solwezi has been put on sale, Mine Worker Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Joseph Chewe has disclosed.

ZANIS reports Mr Chewe saying in an interview the decision was arrived at during a board meeting yesterday after which  the development was communicated to the Union.

“The owners of Lumwana Barrick mine had a board meeting yesterday after which its president Mark Bristow announced that the mine will be available for sale and that he will come back for a follow up in January next year, this is after months of rumours and now the rumours have come true,” Mr Chewe said.

Mr Chewe said the union has not yet been furnished with the full details of the intended mode of sale but stressed that the plight of the workers should be the priority.

Prior to 1999, Lumwana was a rural village in the provincial capital of Solwezi.

In 1999, Equinox Minerals Limited acquired the nearby Lumwana Copper Mine. Over the next 10 years, working with its Zambian subsidiary, Lumwana Mining Company Limited, Equinox carried out feasibility studies, sourced financing and constructed the present infrastructure.

The mine was commissioned in December 2008 and is the largest employer in the town. In July 2011, Barrick Gold acquired a 100% interest in Lumwana mine.

As of second quarter 2013, the mine employed approximately 1,850 employees and 4,400 contractors. In addition to copper, the mine also produces cobaltgold, and uranium.

And Mr. Chewe has expressed concern over the rampant sale of mines in the country questioning whether the situation was helpful to the country and the workers.

He said there was need to evaluated and ascertain if the sector is creating the jobs that were anticipated after the privatisation process.

Government should go back to the drawing board and re-strategize on how the country will take charge of the sector before the country becomes a profit making ground for foreigners, he said.

He noted that there have been a lot of out-cry from mining houses each time government makes tax adjustments which end up into closure of mines or suspension of some mine operations as well as sale of mines, a situation he said should be addressed immediately.

Mr. Chewe suggested that government should increase its shareholding in the mines for it to have a significant say in the mining companies to ensure fair decision making that will benefit the country.

He noted that new companies come to take up mines come with unfair conditions that just arm-twist government and in the end workers and the country at large are disadvantaged.

A number of mining companies have made significant adjustments in their operations following the recent adjustment in the mine tax regime by government.

The adjustments include closure of some operational units, labour downsizing and complete stoppage of operations for some mining companies.

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