Vedanta to replace 1,500 Zambian workers with machines

Vedanta Resources (LON:VED) announced on Friday that by March it would cut more than 1,500 jobs in Zambia through its subsidiary Konkola Copper, Reuters reports.

Kishore Kumar, the chief executive of Konkola, said that automation "may affect upwards of 1,529 members of our staff," Reuters writes.

Vedanta believes a more mechanized process will allow it to increase production, which currently stands at 8 tonnes per employee annually. Kumar said this was "'unsustainable when compared to the global average of 100 tonnes."

The news comes as a major blow to the country where Konkola is the largest copper producer.

In May, Vedanta considered laying off more than 2,000 due to depressed metals prices. It halted these plans after the government threatened to take over the mines.

In response to Friday's announcement, Zambia’s mines minister Christopher Yaluma is seeking a metting with Kumar, Bloomberg writes. 

“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 told Bloomberg reporters.

Konkola Copper Mines is Zambia's largest private sector employer. It has over 9,500 full time employees and 11,000 contracted workers, according to its website.

Creative Commons image by: Jonathan McIntosh