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Zambian gov't denies mine takeover claims


18:42, May 31, 2013

LUSAKA, May 31 (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government has denied claims that it plans to take over a mining firm that has decided to lay off 2, 000 workers in order to save jobs, the Zambia Daily Mail reported on Friday.

Edgar Lungu, who is currently acting as the Zambian president, said the government has no plans to take over and run the mines in order to save jobs and that the sector will remain in the capable hands of private companies. "I can safely state that we have no plans whatsoever, now or in the near future, to take over any mine from anyone and run it. Our job is to run government and provide a good environment for private business to flourish and not to take over any private company," he was quoted as saying by the paper.

The government, he said, would endeavor to ensure that businesses flourish in the country so that markets are not adversely affected. Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Plc, one of the country's biggest mines, has informed the government that it intends to lay off 2, 000 workers out of its workforce of about 8, 263 citing increasing production costs and low prices of copper on the international market as some of its reasons. But the decision has caused a backlash from both the government and the trade unions, with the unions calling on the government to grab the mine from the investors, London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc. Some analysts have accused the mining firm of not being sincere on its intention to lay off workers, saying current prices which are around 7, 000 U. S. dollars per ton are enough for a company to make profits.

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