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Zambia threatens to expel foreign workers over mine job cuts

Zambia threatened to cancel work permits for some foreign workers at mines that it accuses of announcing job cuts to “arm-twist” the government over proposed tax changes.

“They downsize the local workers, we also send back some of the foreign workers. And we decide who to send back,” Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo told reporters Sunday in Lusaka.

Mining companies in Zambia, from Glencore Plc to First Quantum Minerals Ltd., have warned that an increase in royalties set for Jan. 1 will lead to more than 21,000 job cuts. The government wants to rely on operators to help plug a bulging budget deficit, and has in the past accused them of not paying enough tax.

“What we are not happy with is this arm-twisting kind of approach,” Kampyongo said. “Where you want to think that the moment you talk about downsizing the workers you know what is going to happen — that people will start rising against the government. That, we are not going to accept.”

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