Zambia seeks to take control of Mopani

Glencore’s Mopani complex. Image by Per Arne Wilson

Zambia’s state-owned mining investment company (ZCCM-IH) is seeking a controlling stake in Glencore subsidiary Mopani Copper Mines, Mines minister Richard Musukwa said on Tuesday.

Mopani, which produced 119,000 tonnes of copper in 2018, is 73.1% owned by Glencore, 16.9% by First Quantum Minerals and 10% by ZCCM-IH.

A 10% stake was “not sufficient” to determine Mopani’s future, Musukwa said in a statement, and ZCCM-IH was therefore seeking a larger stake “with a view to holding a controlling stake in Mopani”.

The mines minister told Reuters ZCCM-IH was seeking a 51% shareholding “or even more”.

Asked about ZCCM-IH seeking a controlling stake in Mopani, a Glencore spokesman declined to comment.

On July 16, the company said it would appeal the mines ministry’s decision to reject its proposal to suspend the operations

“Glencore can confirm that it is in discussions with existing Mopani shareholder ZCCM-IH and other shareholders regarding the potential acquisition of additional shares by ZCCM-IH from Glencore,” the company said.

“The discussions are progressing and further updates will be issued as appropriate.”

A majority stake would require Glencore selling more than 41% of the company to ZCCM-IH.

In April, Zambia’s government threatened to revoke Mopani’s mining licenses and temporarily blocked Mopani’s chief executive officer Nathan Bullock from leaving the country saying the company did not give enough notice before suspending its mining operations during the coronavirus crisis.

In May, Mopani said it would resume mining operations for 90 days but still expected to go into care and maintenance.

On July 16, the company said it would appeal the mines ministry’s decision to reject its proposal to suspend the operations and that would continue activities pending the outcome of the appeal process.

(With files from Reuters and Bloomberg)

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