UPDATE 1-Workers end strike at Zambia's Barrick Gold copper mine

Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:57am EST
 
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LUSAKA Feb 24 (Reuters) - Workers at Barrick Gold's Lumwana Copper Mine in Zambia called off their strike on Tuesday after the government said they would not lose their jobs, an official said.

More than 2,000 workers went on strike on Monday at the mine to protest against the company's plans to suspend operations at the facility due to higher royalties.

"I addressed the workers at Lumwana last night and assured them that the government position is that no job should be lost. They agreed to resume normal duties this morning and as we speak the strike has ended," North-Western province permanent secretary, Amos Malupenga told Reuters.

Zambia's president said on Monday his government would not allow mining jobs to be lost at Barrick Gold's copper mine, suggesting one measure could be to find a new partner to jointly run the mine with the government if Barrick closed it.

Barrick co-president Kelvin Dushnisky said on Monday the company does not expect Zambia to take aggressive steps against Barrick to keep the mine open. Dushnisky said he was hopeful the two sides will find a solution in coming weeks. But if not, would suspend operations at Lumwana.

Zambia in January hiked mineral royalties for open pit operations to 20 percent from 6 percent, prompting Toronto-based Barrick Gold to say it would suspend operations at its Lumwana Copper Mine, which supports nearly 4,000 direct jobs. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by James Macharia)