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By Zamchro Correspondent,


Lusaka – Zambian President Rupiah Banda has announced plans to nationalize foreign-owned copper mines that have closed down due to the global recession and the fall in copper prices, state radio reported Wednesday.


President Rupiah BandaOfficials from the ministry of mines were discussing the timeframe for the nationalization of the mines in Copperbelt province, Banda said. Mines with vibrant operations would not be nationalized, he said.


Zambia, Africa’s largest copper producer, is facing economic uncertainty in the wake of a sharp drop in copper and cobalt prices. Copper mining is the mainstay of the economy and accounts for about 80 per cent of the countries export earnings.


The situation has forced some foreign firms to close down mining operations in the southern African country and retrench thousands of workers.


Among the mines closed are Bwana Mkubwa mine in Ndola, which is owned by First Quantum Mining and Operations Limited (FQMO) a unit of Toronto-listed First Quantum Minerals Limited, and Luanshya Copper Mines (LCM), a joint venture of the Swiss-based International Mineral Resources and Bein Stein Group Resources of Israel.


LCM has also shut Chambishi cobalt smelter and suspended its new 354-million-dollar Mulyashi mine project, both on the Copperbelt. The firms claim that copper mining is no longer profitable and have said operations would restart only if the price of copper rises.

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