KAFUE River, one of the country’s major water sources, is at risk of being polluted by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) once again due to spillage of suspended solids and sulphate from the company’s Muntimpa tailings dam.
Muntimpa stream hosts KCM’s tailings dam where the mining giant discharges its effluents from the tailings leach plant and pours into Mwambashi River which subsequently flows into Kafue River.
According to investigations by the Sunday Times, the levels of sulphate in Kafue River on the Copperbelt have continued to increase in the recent past due to increased pollution from the mining giant.
The country’s largest integrated copper producer could not respond to the Press query during the week on the revelations.
However, the mining giant has in the past attributed the abnormal discharge of the tailings’ suspended solids to recent works that saw the expansion of the Muntimpa tailings dam.
Documents obtained by the Sunday Times indicated that the analysis by a joint team of experts from the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), Nkana Water and Sewerage Company (NWSC) and Copperbelt provincial local government office indicate that Kafue River is at a greater risk of being polluted.
The revelation comes barely two weeks after Local Government Minister Emerine Kabanshi revealed that two water treatment plants for NWSC have been shut after being polluted by KCM.
Sources said the two water treatment plants were still closed although it was not clear the measures that the mining giant had taken in mitigating the pollution.
“You are already aware about the closure of the Mwambashi dam raw water intake and the Mwambashi Water Treatment Plant in Ganertone Township in Kitwe, and these sources have not been opened,” said the sources.
“The minister had given KCM an ultimatum of 14 days to rectify the problem but from the look of things very little or nothing has been done and the plants are still shut.”
The closure of the Mwambashi dam comes barely one month after the Government in collaboration with the African Development Bank (ADB) rehabilitated the facility at huge cost.
Ms Kabanshi reminded the mining company that preventing pollution was a mandatory obligation under the laws of Zambia and other international instruments.
She directed KCM to address the pollution problem within three weeks before the Government could order the mining giant to shut down its tailings leach plant.
There is fear that unless something is done promptly to prevent pollution, NWSC may be forced to shut down Bulangililo Water Treatment Plant which supplies 60 per cent of water Kitwe District.
[Times of Zambia]