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Tributes salute Philip Pascal legacy  

By Derrick Silimina

People from all walks of life converged at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka recently to honour the life and legacy of Philip Pascall, the co-founder and visionary leader of First Quantum Minerals Ltd.

Philip steered the mining giant to global heights, leaving an indelible mark on the world mining industry. Under his leadership, he established an entrepreneurial culture that saw the company formed in 1996 grow from a 10,000 tonnes tailings re-processor with the Bwana Mkubwa project in Zambia to one of the world’s largest copper producers with operations spanning five continents.

Philip’s legacy stretches into the local communities in which FQM operates, bringing improved standards of health and education in often remote places and employing more than 20,000 people globally.

In a touching tribute to Philip who died on September 19, 2023, his young brother Matt Pascall shared a great insight into Philip’s early life and experiences in rural Zimbabwe and how his unique character helped shape his professional and entrepreneurship journey.

Matt noted that Philip was born in Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe) in 1947. At five, he suffered from malaria and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for some days, then and later on his parents had to evacuate him from Salisbury, now Harare, to Mutare via a train. That was a daunting experience for the young Philip.

Matt further stated that Philip’s illustrious mining career started after he studied at a university in England where he pursued control engineering, a branch of electrical engineering which had nothing to do with mining.

After that Philip was involved in oil exploration in Nigeria and Mozambique. Following a short stint in Australia where he was project manager for a diamond mining firm and civil engineering, he later built many mining projects not only in Australia but also in Zimbabwe, Indonesia, America and other countries in the world.

“It all started in 1996 when he came to apply for a hunting concession in Zambia. Out of curiosity for other opportunities, Philip founded Bwana Mkubwa Mine in Ndola which became a solid foundation for FQM. After the privatisation of ZCCM, we extended our operations to the Kansanshi mine and later another mining project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” Matt narrated.

Kansanshi Mine General Manager Anthony Mukutuma who said Philip would be remembered as a man who built a top-tier mining company in under 20 years, and that his greatest legacy would be the people, lives and livelihoods of millions that he had impacted directly and indirectly.

“The people’s first culture at FQM is Philip and it is our attempt to put to paper Philip’s approach to life and the world that made him so impactful,” Mukutuma said in remarks given on his behalf by the company’s Corporate Secretary Joyce Muwo.

The General Manager emphasized that Philip’s idea of giving was not based on what he had but on how he could better the lives and livelihoods of others; particularly in the areas of personal growth, education, health and sustainable development.

CHANGED

In this context, courtesy of an FQM University of Cape Town Scholarship, Philip has changed many lives including young Zambians of humble backgrounds whom he empowered academically, offering them unique opportunities.

Reminiscing on his humble beginnings during the memorial service, FQM Trident Technical Manager – Mine Maintenance Nathan Mbulo paid his glowing tribute to Philip and disclosed how difficult life was, growing up in a family that relied on his mother’s meagre salary.

Mbulo, 34, stated that his university prospects were limited to Zambia as his family could not afford an education abroad, “Thanks to FQM, after a series of interviews and tests, I was awarded a scholarship to study Electrical Engineering at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Thus, I began my journey with First Quantum that has spanned three continents.”

He noted that over the last 10 years, he had been privileged to attain two master’s degrees and had enjoyed various roles, eventually rising to his present position.

Fellow scholarship recipients also shared their success. Tamara Habile who went on to study Chemical Engineering also spoke. “The deliberate plans by FQM in giving back to the community has made a mark on my life personally. It has made me a graduate of one of the most prestigious universities in Africa and additionally gave me a great start to my career,” Habile said.

OPPORTUNITIES

Mahali Zabangwa who also studied Chemical Engineering affirmed, “Today, I stand a seasoned Senior Metallurgist, a position that might have remained out of reach were it not for the opportunities and support provided.”

Zabangwa acknowledged that Phillip’s vision established a sturdy foundation for exciting careers and promising futures.

Aibaki Tembo who studied Electrical and Computer Engineering echoed his colleagues’ sentiments and said, “I stand as proof of his dedication to nurturing talent and his generosity. His legacy will forever echo in the corridors of the success he built, and his impact will be felt in the lives he touched.” Tembo described Philip’s generosity and vision to cultivate a new generation of ground-up leaders as “inspiring”.

COMMUNITY PLAYER

In his tribute, Chief Mumena of the Kaonde people hailed Philip as a community player who touched many lives. “What we learn from Philip is that he came to our land and not to reap but to sow; and he did so through a wonderful seed, a real seed which is the seed of humanity. He exhibited that through being a community player and a great partner in socio-economic development. Philip was a true African as much as he was a global citizen with a footprint on almost all the continents on the globe,” Chief Mumena said.

The traditional leader indicated that Philip was a great mining stalwart who invested in the livelihoods of people in the province through education, health, infrastructure and agriculture among other corporate social responsibility programmes.

Dean of the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross Father Charley Thomas affirmed that Philip’s pioneering spirit extended the mental and physical boundaries of the Copperbelt Province, “Philip was driven by purpose and had a clear vision to create a better world. The impact of Philip’s world is beyond the 20,000 employment created globally by FQM or even the 10,000 indirect jobs; the impact of what he started is going to stay for years to come,” Fr. Thomas said in his sermon.

“As Philip’s reputation and his unique signature on life continue to positively impact many lives. He indeed ran a good race that is resoundingly a true definition of what the Bible in Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 reminds us that, ‘A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth…’”

Present at the memorial service was Home Affairs Minister Jack Mwimbu who was flanked by senior Government officials, former Vice-President Enock Kavindele, Chief Kapijimpanga and Chief Mumena of the Kaonde people, and FQM senior staff.

Philip is survived by his wife Vivien, children and grandchildren.

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