Glencore said on Friday it was in final-stage negotiations over a potential sale of its majority stake in Mopani Copper Mines to Zambia’s mining investment arm ZCCM-IH.
Zambian state radio ZNBC earlier reported the government had concluded talks with Glencore, citing President Edgar Lungu. According to the broadcaster, a deal was likely to be signed next week.
Zambia’s state mining investment arm has been in talks to buy Glencore’s 73.1% stake in Mopani since August. ZCCM-IH currently has 10% of Mopani, with Glencore holding 73.1% and First Quantum Minerals 16.9%.
Glencore shelved its plans to place the operations under care and maintenance for 90 days, after Zambia threatened to revoke its mining license in April. The government strategy is driven by a need to safeguard jobs at Mopani, rather than any desire to raise its shareholding, said Barnaby Mulenga, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines.
On a visit to Mopani Copper Mines on Friday, Lungu said the government would ensure the mine continued to operate and no jobs would be lost.
With Zambians heading to the polls in August, President Lungu has been working to win votes in the country’s northern copper belt. The government is also in a dispute over Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines, which is under the control of a liquidator since May 2019. Lusaka accused Vedanta of failing to honour licence conditions, including promised investment.
Glencore has invested more than $1 billion in Mopani since 2014 – extending its life by a further 25 to 30 years.
Mopani produced 119,000 tonnes of copper in 2018.
(With files from Reuters)