Zambia Mines Minister to Seek Vedanta Meeting Over Job Cuts

Zambia’s mines minister Christopher Yaluma will seek a meeting with the chief executive officer of Vedanta Resources Plc’s local unit over the company’s plans to cut 1,529 jobs.

“We would very much like to discuss with them and find a solution that is not detrimental to them and not detrimental to the government,” Yaluma said today by mobile phone from Lusaka, the capital of Africa’s biggest copper producer.

Konkola Copper Mines Plc may reduce its workforce as it seeks to boost productivity at its mines by relying less on labor and more on machines, Chief Executive Officer Kishore Kumar said yesterday. The firings are at odds with the government’s plans to create employment in a country where over 60 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar a day.

The company plans to cut the jobs by the end of March, spokeswoman Joy Sata said yesterday by mobile phone from Chingola, Copperbelt province.

Konkola Copper Mines said in May it would fire 2,000 workers because of rising costs and falling metal prices. It reversed that plan the following month after talks with government and labor unions.

“We don’t try to prescribe or dictate, we try to enter into a discussion,” Yaluma said. The talks will include himself and Fackson Shamenda, the labor minister, he said.

South Africa-based Shoprite, the continent’s biggest grocer, reinstated 2,200 Zambian workers it fired last month after the government threatened to cancel its trading license unless it took the employees back, according to media reports.