By SIMON MUNTEMBA
OPERATIONS of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) under Vedanta Resources are replete with serious flaws, the Engineering Institution of Zambian (EIZ) has said.
EIZ president Sydney Matamwandi said the institution had identified six serious short-comings with the operations of the mines under the control of KCM after extensive consultations with its senior members with extensive hands-on experience in mining.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Matamwandi cited mine dewatering as one of the areas that had been neglected by the KCM management.
“Mine dewatering is an essential operation. The available evidence indicates significant negligence of this operation by the mining company. The threat and consequences of this are detrimental to the mining operation as well as safety,” Mr Matamwandi said.
He said there was a serious backlog on the development of reserves and that the consequence had been a shortage of ore and feed into downstream operations, especially the smelters.
Mr Matamwandi said there were serious shortcomings on the capitalisation of the plant and equipment.
Largely, he said, the plant and equipment used in all the mines under KCM was obsolete resulting in inefficiencies, high down time and low output.
Mr Matamwandi said the mining company had also neglected skills transfer and development heavily relying on expatriate personnel, an approach which was unsustainable to the mine and the country at large.
“The mining company has neglected to complete the Konkola Deep Mining Project (KDMP) resulting into serious shortage of feed into the smelter. The completion of this project would have added significant value to the mining company while creating sustainable employment for our citizens. The current situation is regrettable,” he said.
He said KCM had tended to deploy under-qualified expatriate personnel without the requisite competences in sensitive key management and operational positions.
The practice had worsened the inefficiencies and safety risks that were a result of low capitalisation and poor levels of capital investment into the mines.
He said the institution was of a view that the above shortcomings must not be overlooked if the viability of the mining operation under the next investor is to be assured.
Mr Matamwandi said EIZ had already began engagement with key stakeholders to discuss the issues in detail as well as to help in formulating a set of requirements that should be embedded into any agreement to be entered into with the potential investors.