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Mining must take place but not at the expense of the people – Nzovu

By John Chola

Minister of Green Economy and Environment Hon. Eng. Collins Nzovu has insisted that government has no intentions of closing mining companies but wants them to comply with the laws of the country.

The Minister said this in Sinazongwe District, Southern Province where he was inspecting mining companies in the area following complaints of pollution, cracks due to blasting, water contamination and for operating without approval among others.

Nzovu was accompanied by his Permanent Secretary Dr Douty Chibamba and officals from the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA).

The team visited Collum Coal Mine, Maamba Collieries Coal Mine, Seizic Mining Limited and African Power Coal.

During the inspections, some companies were found to be compliant to environmental and safety requirements while some were found to be non-compliant.

He noted with concern the unsafe mining methods (lack of benching), poor management of waste water (such as waste water being discharged in streams) and lack of dust suppression mechanisms.

NZOVU and delegation also noted that some mining companies have not fully compensated the people living in the licensed areas and urged them to do so.

Nzovu noted the air and water pollution saying the treatment of waste water in mining companies was very important as people and animals depend on this same water for their livelihood.

He reminded mining companies and other companies that intend to invest in the country to go to ZEMA, get the Environmental Management Act and other environmental orders.

“Government is interested in expansion of the mining sector but not at the expense of human health and the environment,” Nzovu insisted.

He also emphasized on mining companies to undertake Social Corporate Responsibility in the areas where they were operating.

He urged those that were found compliant to continue to maintain the standards and for those found non compliant, to immediately work on the non-compliances.

Senior Headman Siamududule from Mweemba Chiefdom complained about the dust and the contaminated water which has a huge effect on the school going children.

The Traditional Leader urged the mining companies to drill boreholes so that the people and animals stop drinking the contaminated water.

The Minister also visited the resettlement village for Maamba Collieries Limited which was necessited by the construction of a water treatment plant for the Thermal Power Plant.

Maamba Collieries Limited resettled about 60 families in the process.

ZEMA Acting Director Operations Christopher Kanema indicated that his organisation will continue to monitor the compliance of all mining companies and directed all extracting firms in Sinazongwe District to comply immediately with the requirements of the Environmental Management Act and conditions of approval.

The mining companies have since promised to ensure safety of the mines and the surrounding communities and pledged to ensure environmental protection.

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