Aug 16, 2010 (Dow Jones Commodities News Select via Comtex) --
Zambia's mining unions have decided to demonstrate against plans by the country's largest copper miner, Konkola Copper Mines, to outsource labor at some of its mines on the Copperbelt, a union official told Dow Jones Newswires Monday.
Union representatives have already applied for police permits to hold demonstrations on the Copperbelt province, Sikufela Mundia, the president of National Union of Miners and Allied Workers, NUMAW, said.
KCM, a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources PLC (VED.LN) is planning to outsource labor at its Nchanga unit, a move expected to make 170 miners jobless.
"Police permits always take seven days. We expect to have them by the end of this week," he said by telephone from Kitwe, on the Copperbelt province.
NUMAW and Miners' Union of Zambia representatives met over the weekend in Kitwe and agreed to hold demonstrations to press KCM to drop plans to outsource labor.
The demonstrations will be peaceful, Mundia said. However, past protests on the Copperbelt have turned violent, according to people familiar with the situation.
A KCM spokesman couldn't comment immediately.
Earlier this month, KCM defended its plans to outsource labor, saying it's a survival strategy geared toward reducing costs and boosting efficiency.
However, the miners have warned that outsourcing could stir unrest in the country. Last week, Zambia's miners' unions accused the government of siding with mining companies by allowing them to outsource labor and recruit expatriates.
Union representatives have threatened to support the opposition in next year's presidential and parliamentary polls as a result.
Since 2004, KCM has been implementing various expansion projects aimed at increasing its annual copper production to 500,000 metric tons by 2011-12 from the current 305,000 tons. Last year, the company announced plans to cut monthly costs from $10 million to $6.5 million.
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