Jul 20, 2010 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- The Miners Union of Zambia has urged caution over the impending investment of Brazilian major Vale SA (VALE) in the country's copper mining sector, a union leader told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday.
Rayford Mbulu, president of MUZ, said the government should take caution as Vale has a poor human rights record, based on its operations in countries such as Canada.
Mbulu also said that much as the country needs to attract investors in the mining sector, the government isn't considering the question of credibility and worker welfare.
"If we lack ideas to extract our copper, it is better for it to remain in the ground so that our children can come and extract it. If Vale cannot respect the rights of workers in Canada, a First World country, what about Zambia?"
Vale couldn't comment immediately.
Mbulu cited the strike by Vale's workers at United Steel Co. in Canada. "Our comrades at United Steel have been on strike for over 12 months and Vale has been so stubborn."
Eduard Ledsham, executive director of Vale, said early this month that his company would invest up to $400 million to develop the 50,000-metric-ton-a-year Konkola North Copper mine in the Copperbelt province.
Construction work is expected to begin in September.
The union wrote to the government on Monday opposing the proposed investment; the government is yet to respond.
Zambia, Africa's largest copper producer has seen a surge in investments in its mining sector since 2006 following a global copper price rally, the country's annual copper output is expected to hit 1 million tons by 2011 compared with 700,000 tons produced last year.