Residents living around a disputed prospecting area in Chingola’s Kafisali area have called for a forensic audit into how a Chinese investor grabbed the mining area from Zambian owners under the directive of Mines minister Christopher Yaluma and Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge.
The residents allege that Yaluma and Musenge pocketed US$2 million from the Chinese to facilitate the mine takeover.
According to the residents and sources at the Geological Survey department in Lusaka, China Copper Mining forced itself on the prospecting licence of Donalds Investments Limited, a Zambian owned company.
The residents want the takeover by the Chinese probed saying the company was involved in pollution and other illegal activities.
The residents allege that Mines Minister Christopher Yaluma and Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge were bribed to the tune a US$2 million by the Chinese to facilitate the illegal take over of the prospecting area.
these Chinese are now polluting our houses with their mining activities
They believe Mr Yaluma and Mr Musenge were being paid an undisclosed monthly salary by the Chinese.The residents complained that it was becoming common for Chinese
investors to conduct illegal activities on the Copperbelt.The residents who staged a peaceful protest to the office of the District commissioner for Chingola on the 1st September asked for independent people to have Mr.Yaluma and Mr Musenge investigated to ascertain whether they were involved in the Chinese mine takeover.
“The Chinese used to come to the area but we knew it belonged to other people. The next thing we heard was that the mine now belongs to the Chinese. But these Chinese are now polluting our houses with their mining activities,” Chanda Kombe said.
According to Kombe, China Copper Mining has been dumping acid, oil and other chemicals in Kafisali since it started mining activities.Some residents who spoke by phone from Chingola said the Chinese mining firm was involved in air pollution and want this disturbance to be stopped immediately.
Chingola District Commissioner Philip Kalima assured the residents that experts will investigate their concerns immediately to rectify the matter.
The two ministers are said to have directed the officials at the Geological Survey Department and local authorities in Chingola to ensure that the prospecting area in Kafisali area was given to China Copper Mines where they promised to terminate the employment of any worker who opposed their directive.
“Initially the Chinese came and made an application for the same area that belonged to the Zambian company. However, the local authority in Chingola informed the Chinese that the prospecting area was for another investor. According to our investigations, the Chinese went to the Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge who later collaborated with the Mines minister Christopher Yaluma to instruct us to give them the area,” a resident from Chingola said.
The Chinese company has refused to observe any environmental and other regulations since it is involved in the production of pollutants that have affected the local people around the prospecting area.
“The company is involved in heavy pollution from blasting and copper trading even though their licence is confined to mining prospecting only” the source said.
According to a search at the GSD, China Copper Mine has no legal document to the prospecting area they are currently occupying.
“When you look at what China Copper mine is doing right now, it looks perfectly normal and legal, but it is when you ask them about their documents. They have nothing legal. This licence is showing that these are the mining details but when you go physically to the site, you realize a very serious irregularity because the Chinese are doing contrary to what is on their licence,” the source said.
Both Yaluma and Musenge could not be reached for comments before publishing, but efforts are still being made to get the side of the story from the two ministers.
Meanwhile the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) has served China copper mines with an Enviromental restoration order.
Below is a Press statement released to the media by ZEMA Principal Information and Communication Officer Irene Lungu Chipili
Pursuant to Section 105 of the Environmental Management Act (“EMA”) No. 12 of 2011, Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) on 8th September, 2015 issued an Environmental Restoration Order to China Copper Mines Limited (“CCM”) of Chingola in the Copperbelt Province of the Republic of Zambia.
CCM has been ordered to take any measures to reduce, remedy or mitigate any adverse effects related to pollution of the Fitula and Muntimpa Streams and surrounding environs resulting from its Leaching and Solvent Extractions Operations. To this end, CCM has specifically been ordered to:
Immediately cease operations at the Leaching and Solvent Extraction Plants and associated infrastructure which were the source of the said pollution;
Construct another pond south of the current leach ponds to act as a Pollution Control Dam (“PCD”) which pond is to be lined with High Density Polyethylene (HDP) material to contain future possible pollution occurrences;
Restore affected land including the two streams (Fitula and Mimbula);
Remove or alleviate any injury to land, animals, and the environment or to the amenities of Kafisali and Kankomo Communities; and
Immediately provide an alternative source of clean and safe drinking water to the communities of Kifisali and Kankomo and their livestock until such a time that the contamination in the Fitula and Mimbula streams is reduced to acceptable levels to the satisfaction of ZEMA.
ZEMA takes this opportunity to remind all licensed facilities to adhere to the conditions stipulated by environmental law and other relevant laws and uphold environmental friendly practices. Further ZEMA wishes to reiterate that it is a requirement of the law for all development projects to go through the Environmental Impact assessment and to adhere fully to the conditions of approval where a project is approved. It is an offence to conduct business activities contrary to the provisions of the EMA.