Chingola miners riot; burn trucks

Part of Chingola town centre

Part of Chingola town centre

A strike over wages by workers at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a unit of London-listed Vendanta Resources (VED.L), on Wednesday halted most units at the facility, a government official said. Villie Lombanya, permanent secretary for the Copperbelt province, said the operations had ground to a halt some units of the KCM in Chingola, 380 km north of Lusaka. “Operations at the concentrator, the underground mine and the tailings leach plant have ground to a halt.

Only the smelter is working because it is automated,” Lombanya said. The workers demanded higher wages.

It was not immediately clear how much copper output would be affected by the strike. The company was not immediately available for comment. “The situation was very bad…the miners burnt two trucks belonging to a supplier and smashed window panes (at a block of) flats,” Lombanya said.

“The miners also looted from the shops within the plant and police had to be called in to stop the riot.” In 2008, workers at KCM, which has several projects aimed at raising output, including the development of the Konkola Deep Mine Project (KDMP) which it hopes to bring on stream by 2010, carried out similar action during wage negotiations between the unions and management.

KCM, which operates the Konkola copper mine, the satellite Fitwaola mine and the Nampundwe pyrite mine, has also started reclaiming refractory ores at the Nchanga open pit to produce more copper.

Reuters (Writing by Shapi Shacinda; editing by Sue Thomas)

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