GREEN Party president Peter Sinkamba has urged Zambians not to demonise Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) over their motive to important copper concentrate containing arsenic because the country already has traces of the toxic chemical element.
Arsenic is a toxic chemical element that causes cancer if exposed to humans in uncontrolled quantities.
Mr Sinkamba who is also Citizens for Better Environment (CBE) executive director said what was critical for now was to put in place measures that would ensure that migration of the arsenic into the water systems is regulated.
Commenting on the raging debate over KCM motive to import copper concentrates from Chile that has levels of arsenic, he said the toxic chemical element has always existed in the country and such did not warrant the kind of debate it had currently generated.
Mr Sinkamba said in an interview in Kitwe yesterday that arsenic was not only found in Chile but in many countries Zambia inclusive.
“Arsenic occurs naturally in the environment and the various ores that we mine have arsenic including some tubers such as Cassava from the study we conducted we found they contain high levels of arsenic even local copper.
“So what is important is to put in place measures that will ensure that migration of that arsenic to the water systems is not high and to us, this is what is important when discussing importation of concentrates from Chile by KCM,” Mr Sinkamba said.
He wondered why there was no talk when the nation imported concentrates from Congo which also contained levels of arsenic and Uranium which is even more hazardous.
Mr Sinkamba was sure that the various mining operations including KCM had put in place system to control impact of toxic chemical elements such as arsenic from causing harm to both the environment and human life.
He said instead of demonizing KCM over the motive to important concentrate, stakeholders should give the mining firm credit because the move was a right step towards value addition which the nation desperately required.
“We need to start adding value and if we can import concentrate which is cheap from Chile, that is the best way to go,” he said.
He said there was need to understand that copper at the moment had become expensive to mine in the country and this was making smelters to operate below their full potential.
By importing concentrate from Chile, this will help smelting operations currently in the range between 40 to 50 per cent would be scaled up and this would ensure increased revenue for the mines translating into profit.