May 20, 2010 (DOW JONES NEWSWIRES) --The ongoing strike of workers at Zambia's state tax body, Zambia Revenue Authority, is delaying the clearance of copper and cobalt exports and could hurt the country's mining sector if it isn't resolved quickly, the general manager of the Chamber of Mines of Zambia told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday.
Fredrick Bantubonse said the strike is stalling the clearance of exports as well as vital imports of mining inputs at various border posts for the landlocked country and the impact is likely to worsen if the standoff between management and workers continues.
"The strike mainly started at the headquarters of the Zambia Revenue Authority and has slowly been spreading to copper shipping points," he said by telephone from the Copperbelt province.
According to Bantubonse, the chamber is still assessing the overall impact of the strike on the mining sector. Zambia is Africa's largest copper producer.
Workers at ZRA went on strike Wednesday over a wage dispute with management, stalling the clearance of goods at the country's main border posts, including exit points of copper exports.
Operations at the Kasumbalesa, a key mineral route from Congo's Katanga province into Zambia, have since been stalled. Zambia's Copperbelt province is a major mineral treatment center for mining companies operating in Congo.
The main copper export border post at the Zambia/Tanzania border has also been affected.
Godfrey Msiska, spokesman of Kansanshi Copper Mines, Zambia's largest single copper mine by output, told Dow Jones Newswires that it was too early to assess the impact of the strike on the mine. Kansanshi is majority-owned by Toronto-listed Vedanta Resources PLC.
ZRA's management has declared the strike illegal and threatened to launch disciplinary procedures against the striking workers, who are demanding a 15% pay rise.