Zambia: With First Quantum Minerals poised over Mopani, Hichilema battles to fix mines

By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Posted on Monday, 2 May 2022 11:53

Zambia's President Hakainde Hichilema
Zambia's President Hakainde Hichilema in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 1, 2021. Andy Buchanan/Pool via REUTERS

Hakainde Hichilema won the crucial Copperbelt vote on popular belief that his business competence would be key in reversing the erosion of mining fortunes. Eight months later, his United Party for National Development (UPND) regime is struggling to impress the politically volatile residents. 

Last August, Hichilema and his UPND won the majority vote on the Copperbelt, their very first-ever, a feat which propelled them to power and condemned to defeat the former ruling Patriotic Front in what was previously a stronghold province.

The Copperbelt hosts Zambia’s two biggest mines – Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and Mopani Copper Mines (MCM), the two biggest formal employers in Zambia after the government. They are also the two oldest mining units with an average age of 85 years.

After the privatisation of the mines in the late 1990s, fresh capital and a rally in prices in the 2000s saw Zambia’s production pick up and the country became Africa’s top copper miner.