African mine workers demand 50% pay increase

Zambian copper mine workers are calling for up to 50 per cent in pay increases as their wage agreements expire at the end of this year.

“We feel there is the justification in some cases, where the wages are very low,” president of the mineworkers union of Zambia Chishimba Nkole said.

He told Bloomberg that talks began in October and must be completed before year’s end.

Ventures Africa reported Glencore International Plc and Vedanta Resources Plc.’s Konkola Copper Mines unit and Jinchuan Group’s Chibuluma mine are the affected companies, while Copperbelt Energy Corp. (CEC) and China Nonferrous Metals are also involved.

At the Chibuluma copper operation, workers proposed a 40 per cent increase in pay which was denied by mine management. The wage bill currently accounts for 32 per cent of the mine’s total cost of copper production.

Employees at Chibuluma last year secured a 17 per cent wage increase, the same won by employees at Mopani that year.

In 2011 Zambia ranked sixth in the world for copper production, producing 668,000 metric tonnes of copper, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The country’s economy is predicted to grow by 7 per cent next year.

Australian mining has been covering mining developments on the African continent, recently we asked the question is West Africa the new Pilbara?  With Africa’s untapped resources and the fall in iron ore prices eyes are moving towards to continent.

Some majors have already begun operations in the region, with Rio Tinto running the Simandou mine in Guinea, Vale in Liberia and Guinea, Arcelormittal and BHP Billiton in Guinea at the Nimba project, as well as BHP's interest in a mineral development agreement with the Liberian government, and Xstrata carrying out feasibility studies at its El Aouj, Askaf, and Lebtheinia iron ore projects in Mauritania.

According to Vale the iron ore projects in Guinea are considered to be "one of the best underdeveloped iron ore deposits in the world in terms of size and quality".

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