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Boost in copper production brightens employment prospects

[Zambia] Copper mine in the Copperbelt province.
Copperbelt, Zambia's economic heartland (IRIN)

An increase in copper production, combined with high world prices, has boosted employment in Zambia's formerly ailing mining sector.

The mining sector recorded a one percent growth in the third quarter this year, producing 102,332 mt more than in the previous quarter, Bank of Zambia Governor Caleb Fundanga was recently quoted as saying by a local newspaper, Times of Zambia.

Commerce, Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Eugene Appel told parliament that three major mine investors had put US $590 million into the central province of Copperbelt, securing employment for 19,000 workers.

Equinox Copper Ventures Zambia Limited, owners of Lumwana mine in North-Western province, one of the largest undeveloped copper projects in the world, expected to employ 2,000 people during construction and 1,000 people on operations, said the firm's chief executive, Craig Williams.

First Quantum Minerals, owners of the newly reopened Kansanshi mine in Solwezi, the capital of North-Western province, is expected employ about 600 Zambians when it assumes full production by the end of this year.

The company's financial manager, Paul Hug, said prospective employees would be drawn from the surrounding communities in Solwezi district, while private contractors doing construction work at the mine had already employed a number of people from Solwezi.

The Hetro Mining Company has so far recruited 800 workers in the area for their two major mines, Jifumpa and Kalengwa, in the Kasempa district of North-Western province.

The company's executive director, Shawki Fawaz, said he would employ up to 2,000 workers when four other mines become operational by June next year.

Vedanta Mineral Resources, new owners of the formerly state-owned Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), said they would retain the company's 10,000 workers and the entire management team.

More than 2.9 million Zambians with completed formal education are currently unemployed, according to figures released by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) this year. Zambia's population is almost 10.5 million.

Copper production has increased steadily since 2001, hitting its highest peak of over 101,000 mt in the second quarter of 2004. The CSO also noted that copper production grew by more than 23.8 per cent between January and March this year.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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