Two top copper mines in Zambia shut down

On Saturday  health and environment officials  in Zambia ordered the immediate closure of Mopani copper plant over complaints from residents of a nearby town.

Mopani Copper Mine is owned by Swiss commodities giant Glencore and operates  four underground mines, a concentrator and a cobalt plant in the town of Kitwe and an underground mine, concentrator, smelter and refinery in the town of Mufulira.

Bikay Masr reports "over 3,200 residents in Butondo had been urging the Zambia Environmental Management Authority (ZEMA) to look into a series of health complaints dating back to 2006, with many locals relocating their children to relatives and friends in other towns."

Mopani's stated production capacity is 250,000 tonnes of copper and 2,400 tonnes of cobalt.

Separately workers at Zambia's largest copper mine Kansanshi stopped work over a wage dispute on Thursday according to the country's labour ministry.

Reuters quotes the company spokesman as saying: "There is nothing happening. The workers have blocked the entrance to the mine and we are not producing copper."

The mineworkers are demanding a 17% jump in wages, which is on par with the salary increases Glencore paid the Mopani workers last month.

Kansanshi produces  roughly 230,000 tonnes of copper annually and is owned by First Quantum Minerals.