Zambia will revoke the licence of China's CNMC Luanshya Copper Mines if the company does not reinstate workers sent on forced leave due to falling copper prices and power supply shortages, a government spokesman said on Sunday.
CNMC Luanshya said last Monday it had arrived at the decision after considering the rising cost structure for its Baluba Mine owing to the weaker copper price and the energy crisis bedevilling Africa's second largest producer of the metal.
On Sunday spokesman Chishimba Kambwili said the government would not accept any job losses as a result of the power shortage and had told CNMC Luanshya to rescind its decision.
"If they don’t comply we will revoke their licence," Kambwili said on state-owned ZNBC TV. "Every investor who comes to Zambia must respect the law of the land."
The Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) says about 1,600 members were affected by the decision.
On Saturday MUZ President Nkole Chishimba said the union was challenging CNMC Luanshya's decision, which it alleged was made without consultating labour unions.
Another miner, Glencore's Zambian subsidiary Mopani Copper Mines, is in talks with the government and unions over plans to suspend its production, but a source close to the company said on Friday most workers would be retained.