Mopani Copper Mines injects US$15 million in artisanal training scheme

Mopani Copper Mines, a unit of global commodity trader and diversified miner, Glencore Xstratra, has injected more than US$15 million in reviving an artisan training school in Mufulira, one of its operational areas following calls by the Government to improve skills training in the country and reduce on the industry relying on expatriates.

Previously, Zambian mines under the then Roan Consolidated Copper Mines (RCM) and Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines (NCCM)-which together formed Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), various mining companies had established training skills centres in various towns.

This was meant to encourage Zambians to learn various trades as part of the country’s effort to reduce on labour outsourcing, which saw many Zambians learn the ‘various trades’ and rose to senior ranks.

Among some of the Zambians that rose to senior positions at the time of ZCCM included then Superintendent, Albano Mutati, Pius Mambo and Francis Kaunda, among others as part of the Zambianisation of jobs by then President Kenneth Kaunda ostensibly to encourage the locals to run the mines.

However, with the continued outcry from Government on the need for the industry to maximize on locals to take up senior jobs and reduce on outsourcing, which has seen various Zambians fail to rise to senior positions, Mopani Copper Mines has taken a step ahead in meeting the desires of the Government.

In a statement by the miner, US$15 million (about K90 million) has been ploughed into constructing (reviving) a central training centre in Mufulira, which the company then under RCM had before the unbundling of the ZCCM conglomerate, to mitigate the critical shortage of artisan skills across Zambia’s mining industry.
Mopani Copper Mines chief executive officer, Danny Callow, says the continued growth of the copper mining industry in Zambia has led to a shortage of key technical skills and unavailability of suitably qualified and experienced local artisans. This situation necessitated the establishment of the training centre.

Callow stated that the training centre had been equipped with the world’s best engineering equipment and had so far enrolled over 140 students in its first intake. A total of 200 apprentices would be enrolled by the end of 2014.

Additionally, the Technical, Education, Vocation and Engineering Training Authority (TEVETA) accredited Centre, has come in handy and is offering courses under Mechanical Engineering that include, Fitting and Machining, Plating and welding, Heavy Mining Equipment Diesel Mechanics and Rigger Rope man. In Electrical Engineering, the school will offer courses in Electrical, Auto Electrical and Instrumentation.

The course being offered to the miners, Callow, added would last between two and three years. This was similarly the trend before under ZCCM, in which many Zambians learnt various trades ranging from fitting, electrical, boiler makers, metal fabricators and welders, among others.

It is envisaged, according to the syllabus being offered that the first class of fully trained artisans is expected to graduate in 2016 in which training will be accessible to Zambian school leavers and other local candidates seeking qualifications leading to a career within the mining industry.

According to Callow, the miner would spend a minimum of approximately US$20,000 annually on each apprentice in standard training and other related costs. Other than offering the training for free, Mopani would also provide the students with upkeep allowances, meals and accommodation and recreation facilities.

More than 30 years ago since Zambia’s mining industry became active, leading the country into becoming Africa’s leading copper producer-a feat it has maintained for the past 26 years, Zambia had well-established and funded training institutes that produced highly-qualified artisans and technicians for the mining industry.

Regrettably, the slowdown in copper prices on the international metal market in the 1970s which saw Zambia contribute a paltry 250,000 tons per annum from an average 700,000 tons earlier led to reduced investment in mining and training infrastructure.

Zambia was eventually forced to abandon artisanal training programmes on account that most undergraduates opted to pursue engineering courses at university level, Callow notes in his statement adding that the few remaining artisans could not satisfy the growing industry demand which led to the increased cost of hiring artisans.

During a recent workshop in Kitwe, northern Zambia, Chamber of Mines of Zambia President Emmanuel Mutati, an engineer himself, lamented the low skilled manpower-especially at Artisanal levels a situation he said needed to be reviewed to prop up the industry.

He attributed the decline to the development of the mines in north western Zambia, which has taken most of the skilled laborers to start up new projects in the area, now dubbed “The new Copperbelt” because of its vast mineral resources including gold and uranium.

Source: Mining News Zambia

Zambia’s IDC Plans Bond Sales for State-Owned Companies

Zambia’s Industrial Development Corp. said it plans to sell bonds and stakes in state-owned companies to boost investment and economic growth in Africa’s second-largest copper producer.

The IDC, as the company is known, plans to restore profits at the loss-making government entities and reinvest any dividends, Charles Mate, corporate affairs director, said in an interview in Lusaka today. The creation of the IDC this year doesn’t signal a return to nationalization, said Andrew Chipwende, operations director.

“With the IDC we will probably be undertaking privatization even more vigorously,” through publicly listing more state-owned companies, Chipwende said. “We are actually setting a platform to undertake even further privatization.”

Zambian President Michael Sata, who was voted into office in 2011 on pledges to reduce unemployment and poverty, announced plans for the IDC and a sovereign wealth fund in January. Less than 1 million of the 14 million population in the southern African nation are formally employed, according to government estimates.
“There is a fundamental desire for job creation,” Mate, who was managing director at Stockbrokers Zambia Ltd. before joining the IDC, said. “We have an unemployment crisis.”

One of the companies being housed in the IDC is ZCCM Investments Holdings Plc, which was created to hold minority stakes in mines after the government reversed the nationalization policies of former President Kenneth Kaunda. Others entities include Zambia Railways Ltd., Zambia State Insurance Co., and Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corp.

New industries the IDC plans to invest in through partnering with private companies include agriculture, horticulture, manufacturing, renewable energy and tourism, according to Chipwende and Mate. Zambia is seeking to reduce dependence on copper, which accounts for about two-thirds of export earnings.
Most of the profits the IDC makes will go toward Zambia’s sovereign wealth fund, managed by the central bank, and the rest will be reinvested, said Chipwende.

Copper output in Zambia declines 2 percent-Central Bank

Zambia’s copper outturn has continued to fluctuate-barely days after the country; Africa’s leading copper producer, raised its bar of the red metal on the international metal market, according to the Lusaka-based Bank of Zambia.

According to the data by the Central Bank-copper production from Zambia took a downturn-declining 2.5 percent in the first quarter this year compared to a year earlier, says Bank of Zambia Governor, Michael Gondwe.

In his address to Lusaka-based journalists, August 5, the Bank says copper output dropped 2.5 percent to 276, 075.0 tons from 283,042.3 in the first quarter of 2014. On a year-to-date basis, copper production stood at 559,117.3 tons representing 16 per cent higher than the 480, 892.6 tons produced in the first half of 2013.

Earlier, Bank of Zambia stated on its website that copper production in Zambia rose to over 400,000 metric tons in the first quarter of 2014 from around 300,000 tons produced in the same period last year.

Copper production rose to 473,249 metric tons between January and May from 399, 515 tons produced in the same period last year, the Lusaka-based bank stated.

The development was chiefly attributed to the increase in the mineral output to new developments currently taking place in the mining sector across the country. Copper production increased by 18 percent on year, during the period under review. “Copper export earnings grew by 7.4 percent to US$3,209.1 million during the first five months of the year from US$2,987.5 million recorded over the same period last year, driven by higher export volumes,” the Bank said according to data posted on its website recently.

Copper export volumes, at 477.485.3 metric tons, were 19.4 percent higher than 399,919.8 metric tons recorded during the corresponding period in 2013. The average realised price of copper, however, declined by 10 percent to US$6,720.86 per ton from US$7,471.77 registered during the same period last year.

However, it said the decline in copper prices by 9.1 percent to the US$6,691.00 per ton as at June 11 this year from US$7,360 per ton at the end of December 2013, impacted on market sentiment.

Government policy would remain focused on diversifying the export base through supportive interventions in economic sectors and activities with the greatest potential for exports.

Local contractor commends joint venture partnership initiative by Mopani

Mopani Copper Mines Plc has implemented a number of programmes aimed at empowering and building capacity of local contractors and other small and medium enterprises in Zambia. The Company is encouraging formation of joint venture partnerships between local contractors and internationally-recognized and well-established foreign firms wishing to do business with the mining company. This has cheered the local contractors who have commended Mopani for coming up with the initiative.

One such joint venture supported by Mopani is between Shawonga Enterprises Limited of Zambia (33.3%) and ZINPRO Engineering of South Africa (66.7%). The two have partnered to form ZINPRO Zambia Limited, a company specialized in Shaft and structural steel rehabilitation works. ZINPRO Zambia has been engaged by Mopani to undertake massive refurbishment of the shaft infrastructure which Mopani inherited in a highly dilapidated state at privitisation.

Mopani Chief Executive Officer explains the company’s policy on joint ventures and the benefits that will be derived from supporting these partnerships:

“We have a deliberate policy that encourages foreign manufacturing companies wishing to do business with us to partner with local companies or involve Zambians in their shareholding structures. This, we believe, will help to build capacity of local companies, encourage skills transfer and give a competitive edge to the local firms whilst improving quality and efficiency,” said Mr. Callow.

Mr. Callow said initially attention was directed at improving processing plants and that time had come to address mining related issues.

“At privitisation we inherited highly dilapidated infrastructure both on surface and underground. Our major focus initially was to upgrade the Smelter to eliminate SO2 emissions and improve its efficiency. This project was completed 15 months ahead of schedule in March 2014 and is currently doing very well.

“Our focus now is to improve efficiency and productivity of underground operations. Maintenance of vertical shaft infrastructure is a highly specialised job and there is lack of local skills in this regard due to many years of lack of investment. Every month Mopani loses about 6000 metric tons of copper due to shaft shutdowns to facilitate maintenance.

“By bringing in shaft experts, ZINPRO Zambia Limited, Mopani will address the problem of frequent shutdowns and achieve continued production and less maintenance costs. This will also make shaft maintenance skills available in Zambia through the exchange that will take place as a result of the partnership,” Said Mr. Callow.

ZINPRO Zambia Operations Director, MrLondon Mwafulilwa has hailed Mopani for coming up with the initiative of supporting joint ventures. He has reiterated that the move will benefit all stakeholders involved, including the nation.

“First and foremost this venture is important to our Company because we are able to realize the full potential of the skills that are available, blend them with those of experienced hands and be able to participate in improving productivity in the mining industry as well as grow the mining support base. We are also able to provide employment and develop the local skills of the Zambian personnel,” said Mr Mwafulilwa.

He also reiterated that by partnering with ZINPRO Engineering, the local company has been able to upgrade its profile and working culture and expects a lot of future benefits.

“The ZINPRO Team has brought on board experience and an adorable working culture which most of our technical people do not have. The approach to how we look at the entire business has changed because we now drive solutions as compared to merely seeking contract opportunities.

“In the long term, there will be appropriate technology transfer and in the next 5/10 years we should have in the country dependable and reliable teams to be able to manage such projects without external expertise.”

Mr Mwafulilwa appealed to other local contractors to be consistent and prove their worth as opposed to seeking quick rewards. He further commended Mopani for the initiative.

“It is important for local contractors to remain focused and concentrate on their core business. This is the only way the mining industry will benefit from their input as they become specialists in their fields.

“Shawonga Enterprises Limited has been consistent for over 22 years of operation and therefore gained the necessary recognition from the players in the industry to a point where we are now able to contribute positively to the growth of the industry.

“I would like to commend Mopani for supporting such ventures as they create sustainable growth and support for the mining industry which can then be passed on from generation to generation. This is good not only for the mining industry, but the country as a whole especially that such specialised skills are getting fewer and fewer globally.

In order to promote efficiency in mining, Mopani is promoting other joint ventures between International world class contractors and solid, dependable local Zambian Contractors to form a Zambian owned, world-class mining contracting company by introducing expert skills and resources. This should lead to improved effectiveness and efficiency. The Company is further encouraging value addition and local procurement by empowering local manufacturers of various mining inputs such as cables, mill balls among other things.

Other local contractor development initiatives by Mopani include giving preference to local contractors before a tender can be extended to foreign contractors, Conducting capacity building workshops and trainings in addition to creating new business linkages for local contractors by assisting them to do business with other sister mines across the borders.

“Formation of joint venture partnerships, where Zambian companies take an equity stake, and add significant Zambian expertise to the newly formed company, create a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Empowering local contractors is a great step forward in developing the mining industry in Zambia in line with Government’s local content strategy,” Said Mr. Callow.

Source: Mining News Zambia