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Global outbreak of COVID-19 threatens Zambia’s economy

The global outbreak of coronavirus 2019 – COVID 19 is threatening Zambia’s mining industry, which is the backbone of the Zambian economy. This is due to its impact on global supply chains, thereby dampening the demand of copper, Zambia’s major export.

Minister of Mines and Minerals Richard Musukwa has confirmed that the outbreak of COVID-19 in some countries across the world has negatively impacted commodity prices of all minerals on the market and affected Zambia’s copper mining Industry at large.

Speaking at a joint media briefing with the Ministry of Information and the Zambia Chamber of Mines – ZCM, the minister said in order to ensure the country’s mining industry survives, government in collaboration with key stakeholders in the mining sector will come up with interventions to ensure operations in the mines are sustained and peoples jobs are secured.

Musukwa disclosed that most inputs used in the mines, such as smelters, plants and spares parts are sourced from outside the country and the current situation of COVID-19 has made it difficult for materials to arrive on time hence affecting production.

He has since expressed optimism that going forward, the situation will stabilize with the measures to be put in place adding that the mining industry is too big to fail even in the current circumstances as it is a backbone of the country’s economy.

He added that the ministry has also spread awareness to employees in mines and has engaged the Chamber of Mines to take lead in combating the spread of COVID-19, alluding to the fact that mines have a robust health and safety departments across all operations hence the need to intensify surveillance to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We will also ensure there is public awareness in communities where mining takes place because we believe the infection rate can develop from the community and spread to the mines,” He said.

And the Zambia Chamber of Mines – ZCM president Talent Ngandwe expressed the chambers’ commitment in collaborating with government to provide measures that will control the spread of the virus and stabilize mining operations.

“We are all aware that international copper prices have been adversely affected and it is difficult for the mines to operate profitably when the commodity prices drop, hence, we will put in place measures that will avoid the further collapse of the industry and the economy as a whole,” He added.

According to spot cash prices on the London Metal Exchange, copper prices have dropped to about US$4,850 as at 20 March 2020, down from February spot prices of about US$5,750 per tone.

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