Saturday, January 30, 2010
By Namatama Mundia
Sat 30 Jan. 2010, 04:00 CAT
GOVERNMENT is currently holding negotiations with Nava Bharat, the new owners of Maamba Collieries, aimed at liquidating the debt owed to the mine employees. Responding to parliamentary committee on government assurances chairperson Roan member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili who wanted to know if Nava Bharat of Singapore (NBS) Private Limited were ready to pay the employees, mines ministry permanent secretary Dr Godwin Beene said his ministry was negotiating with the Singaporean company on the debt.
“I am informed that there are negotiations going on the matter. I am told that it will be taken care of,” he said.
Dr Beene said Nava Bharat was well aware of the status of Maamba Collieries.
He said the issue of employees’ indebtedness could be regressive if not well handled.
And Dr Beene submitted that the creditors of Maamba Collieries Limited (MCL) agreed to a 75 per cent discount on all the debt that MCL owed them.
“The scheme of arrangement to write off 75 per cent of debt owed was sanctioned by the High Court on 27 December 2007,” he said. “ZCCM-IH funded the scheme of arrangement and the same was implemented in January 2008.”
Dr Beene added that the sale and purchase agreement for the sale of 65 per cent shares of MCL to NBS was signed by the government, ZCCM-IH and NBS on December 18, 2009.
He said the new owners of MCL were expected to recapitalise the coal mine and develop a new Thermal Power Plant and both projects were to be financed by debt equity.
Dr Beene also said the government was pressing Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to consider opening the Nkana smelter.
“Government has engaged KCM management to look at this issue from a national level to re-open the smelter. This will require massive capital injection to modernise the smelter and make the operations cost effective,” he said.
Dr Beene said there was great urgency to bring back to operation the shut down Nkana smelter in order to ensure that all concentrates produced in the country were smelted and refined within the country.
Dr Beene disclosed that KCM was looking at the option of partnering with other investors to recapitalise the smelter.
“Government will ensure that the negotiation with KCM management result into re-opening of the smelter before 2011,” he said.
Dr Beene attributed the slow pace of geological mapping of the country to the shortage of geologists at the Geologists Survey Department.