Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has sent home 1, 529 miners.
Company chief executive officer (CEO) Kishore Kumar announced the development at a media briefing in Kitwe.
Mr Kumar who was flanked by his vice-president human capital management David Kaunda and other senior staff said the process of laying off the 1, 529 employees had since commenced.
He cited the coming to end of the lifespan of some of the mines at Nchanga, principally the Nchanga Open Pit and the Nchanga Underground Lower Ore Body in the next three years as being the undermining factor behind some of these measures.
“Some of our mines at Nchanga, principally the Nchanga Open Pit and the Nchanga Underground Lower Body will be coming to the end of their mine life within the next three years.
“We therefore need to plan for this reality as with all mine closures. This is not new and has always been expected as advised by KCM a couple of years back. However, we need to take the necessary actions to manage this transition,” he said.
Mr Kumar said over the years, copper grades at Nchanga underground had significantly decreased, from an average of five per cent up to the 1980s, to three per cent in 2000 and currently 1.6 per cent, while open cast mine grades had dropped from three per cent to one point zero today.
He said there was need to note that current KCM productivity at eight tonnes per employee per year compared to global norms of 100 tonnes was unsustainable.
This was due to the fact that Nchanga operations were still using the costly conventional method of mining compared to mechanized mining, which most of the company’s global peers had adopted.
Mr Kumar said in the continuing restructuring of operations, KCM was moving towards mechanization and automation of all its operations to ensure efficiency and higher productivity.