Mopani Copper Mines has suspended operations at its Mindolo North Shaft in Kitwe following an underground fire accident that killed three workers.
The accident was confirmed by Mopani Public Relations Manager Nerbert Mulenga,who said that the incident occurred when a loader caught fire.Mr. Mulenga said the company, along with the Mine Safety Department and other relevant authorities, is currently carrying out an investigation to determine the cause of the incident.
Operations at Mindolo remain suspended until further notice.
The production quantity that would be lost due to the suspension was not clear. Glencore holds a majority stake (73.1%) in Mopani, which has an annual output of around 100,000t of copper.Remaining partners ZCCM-IH and First Quantum Minerals respectively own 10% and 16.9% interests.
Mopani acquired assets of the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) in April 2000. In March 2016, Glencore announced an investment exceeding $1.1 bn in Zambia between 2016 and 2018.
The investment was aimed at developing three copper mine shafts, namely Synclinorium, Mindolo and Mufulira, to extend their mine life by more than 25 years.
The assets included underground mines, a concentrator, a smelter and a refinery at the Mufulira site and underground mines, open pits, a concentrator and a cobalt plant at Nkana mine site in Kitwe. Mopani produces and sells copper and cobalt to the international market.
Independent health and safety agencies should swarm in and investigate what happened.
Some of these companies value profits over local lives.
If there was ever a time this government needed to show some backbone and bring these companies to task, it is this.
My thoughts go out to the families affected.
It’s not important to establish what caused the accident. What is important is why Mopani neglected a cardinal mine safety regulation i.e. An EMPLOYEE IS ENTITLED TO AN EXIT. ..IN SIMPLE TERMS WHEREVER MINERS ARE WORKING, EG UNDERGROUND WORKSHOPS THERE SHOULD ALWAYS BE AN EMERGENCY EXIT. The safety department is aware of this regulation but as is common in Africa they have left everything to chance. Management should not try to cover their ineptitude by trying to find the cause of the accident. …the loader caught fire simple. …so was the place provided with an emergency exit as required by law. Was ventilation installation in place?These are the questions government should be asking instead of being lead on a wrong path.
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