THE Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development has launched investigations into the illegal acquisition of mining licences by some business entities on the Copperbelt.
Mines and Mineral Development Permanent Secretary Paul Chanda said yesterday an inquiry would also be undertaken into the existence of ‘illegal’ mineral smelters in the mining region and surrounding areas.
“Definitely we’ll move in to do some verification in respect to the illegal smelting and other mining activities on the Copperbelt and all illegitimate premises will be shut down without hesitation,” Mr Chanda warned.
He was reacting to recent incidents of violence involving groups known as ‘Jerabos’, mostly unemployed young men who have invaded mining companies like Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) for copper materials that they sell to makeshift smelting operators located in townships.
These are said to be business entities in possession of government-approved mining licences despite not owning quarrying businesses.
Two jerabos have been killed in the last week in confrontations with police assigned to protect the assets of KCM in Chingola, the latest death happening two days ago when a band said to number around 50, some armed with machetes was confronted by armed police inside the Nchanga Mine premises