RAID's first report changed Zambia's copper contracts

RAID’s report Zambia: Deregulation and the denial of human rights (2000) was the first comprehensive analysis of the human rights implications of the privatisation of Zambia’s state-owned copper mining and refining industry. The mines, smelters and refineries were formerly operated by Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Limited (ZCCM), which was majority-owned by the Zambian Government. 

Problems with privatisation

The report found serious problems with the privatisation, including multiple deviations from the procedures laid down in the Zambian Government’s Privatisation Act. The process lacked transparency and accountability, and paid scant regard to the immediate negative impacts on the majority of Zambians living below the poverty line. RAID found that the privatisation failed to safeguard working conditions and employee rights; left tenants who lived in mining areas vulnerable to intimidation and forced eviction; and allowed the social welfare historically supplied by ZCCM to lapse with no replacement being made available.

The unfair investment agreements between the Government and mining companies also lacked adequate provision for fluctuations in the price of copper. When ZCCM was privatised, copper was trading at an historic low of under $1,750/tonne, and the company’s assets were sold well below what many observers considered to be their true market value. Five years later, the copper price had almost doubled, and since then it has doubled again to around $7,000/tonne.

Successful campaigning

As a result of work by RAID and others, the investment agreements have been, and continue to be, modified: the royalties payable by mining companies have been raised, and arrangements have been put in place to ensure that the state can share the rewards of any future increase in the copper price.