LUSAKA, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Zambia's largest mineworkers' union said on Monday it had agreed on wage increases with some of the country's top mining firms, averting possible strikes by workers that would have dented output.
Mining unions in Zambia, Africa's leading copper producer, last month threatened to go on strike if mining companies did not give members pay increases above the country's inflation rate, which slowed to 9.6 percent year-on-year in January.
Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) general secretary Oswell Munyenyembe said his union had agreed to a 22 percent pay rise with Lumwana Mining Company, a subsidiary of Equinox Minerals.
"We had very good negotiations with Lumwana," he told Reuters.
Lumwana, which Equinox says is Africa's largest open pit mine, produced 109,413 tonnes of copper in 2009 and plans to raise output to 135,000 tonnes this year, according to company projections.
Munyenyembe said Mopani Copper Mines (MCM), a unit of Glencore International AG of Switzerland, whose assets include the Mufulira mine, smelter and refinery, Nkana mines concentrator and cobalt plant, had agreed to award its workers a 10.5 percent pay rise.
"We hope that these pay increases will inspire our members to work hard and increase productivity so that together we can move the economy forward," he said.
Munyenyembe said negotiations with Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), which is owned by London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, were continuing.
"We are likely to make progress this week during another round of negotiations with KCM," he said without giving details on how far the two parties had gone in the talks.
Other foreign mining companies operating in Zambia include Canada's First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO), Equinox Minerals and Metorex of South Africa.