President says Zambia will not take over struggling copper mines – by Chris Mfula (Reuters U.S. – November 26, 2015)

LUSAKA – Zambia will not take over mining firms that have shed jobs after a sharp fall in copper prices, President Edgar Lungu said on Thursday, backtracking from an earlier warning that the state would run the mines.

Lungu also said the economy would grow at a slower pace than previously estimated due to the struggling copper industry, but outlined austerity measures to cope with the decline in revenue.

Copper accounts for 70 percent of Zambia’s export earnings, which have been further eroded by a power crisis that forced production to be cut.

“The government can run the mines but we have no intention to take over the mines,” Lungu said during a speech from his office.

The government tried its best to keep the job losses in the mining sector to a minimum,” he said.

“We would have lost all the jobs if we insisted on no job losses. The mines have told us why these jobs are being lost. The challenges in the mining sector are bound to continue.”

Lungu earlier this month said he would not allow Glencore’s local unit to lay off workers. The company has cut its copper output due to flagging prices.

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