LUSAKA, April 7 (Reuters) – Glencore’s Zambian unit Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) will shutter its mines on Wednesday following disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic and low copper prices, it said in a statement, after the country’s mines minister earlier criticised the closure.
“In addition to the impacts of a rapid decline in the copper price, Mopani’s situation has been further impacted by the critical disruptions to international mobility, transportation and supply chains arising from COVID-19,” the company said.
Zambia’s mines minister earlier said MCM had declared “force majeure”, a clause in contracts that allows contractual obligations to be ignored because of unavoidable circumstances.
He questioned, however, whether there were legitimate grounds and said the government would block the mine shutdown, which he said would put 11,000 jobs at risk.
The MCM statement did not mention “force majeure” and a Glencore spokesman declined to comment.