Competence levels of Zambians too low for machines-says Kasanshi

The operator of Zambia’s Kansanshi Copper Mine, the country’s largest single copper mine by output, said Tuesday that its plans to hire additional expatriate workers from Asia won’t threaten local jobs, as they are coming to train local workers in the use of new machinery.
The Toronto-listed First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM.T) will be importing modern equipment, and the technology is new to the mine and the current work force. Up to 49 expatriates are expected from Indonesia to help with the running of the new equipment, company spokesman Godfrey Msiska told Dow Jones Newswires.
“The Indonesians are coming here to train our people, In fact, in the long term, jobs will be preserved for Zambians,” he said.
Last week, the Miners Union of Zambia criticized the company’s plan to hire more expatriates, saying that it was a threat to local jobs. The unions have since asked government to prevail upon mining companies to prevent the hiring of expatriate workers.
However, although the Indonesians will be operating the equipment in the initial stages, they will be hired primarily as trainers, and will hand over the equipment to local trainees as their skill and competence levels improve.
“Due to the high capital cost of the new machines, it is absolutely necessary to ensure the local skills measure up to the operating efficiencies required of a world class mine,” he said, without elaborating on the cost of the equipment.
The new machinery includes modern dump trucks, excavators, electric shovels and graders, and is expected to improve recovery rates from the copper ores that are fed to the company’s processing plant.
Equipment will be delivered over a five-month period starting in May, and will be assembled and commissioned on site.
Last year, Kansanshi produced 245,000 metric tons of copper cathode and around 100,000 troy ounces of gold, a secondary metal at the mine.

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