Green Party President Peter Sinkamba has called upon the Mines Safety Department (MSD) to enforce the mining laws and regulations by prohibiting provisional liquidator Mr. Milingo Lungu from continued management of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) mining operations because he lacks minimum qualifications prescribed by mining regulations to do so.
And Mr. Sinkamba said it is wrong for MSD to resort to double standards by turning a blind eye to illegalities currently taking place at KCM operations while expecting other mining companies to comply with the mining laws and regulations.
Commenting on the excessive discharge of noxious gases from the Lime Plant at Nchanga Mine last week which resulted in hospitalization of 232 children and 40 miners, Mr. Sinkamba said this incidence is unprecedented on the Copperbelt and should not be treated with kid gloves as air pollution is one of the most dangerous hazards on mining as it kills within minutes.
“High concentrations of sulfur dioxide can affect lung function, worsen asthma attacks, and worsen existing heart disease in sensitive population groups. This gas can also react with other chemicals in the air and change to small particles that can get into the lungs and cause similar health effects.
“People with lung diseases, such as asthma and chronic bronchitis will generally have more serious health effects at higher sulphur dioxide levels.
“Children are at higher risk from sulfur dioxide exposure because their lungs are still developing. They are also more likely to have asthma, which can get worse with sulphur dioxide exposure.
“Clearly, what happened last week at KCM was hazardous discharge of sulphur dioxide which was more than 5 parts per million. At that level, sulphur dioxide triggers health warnings of emergency conditions, hence the hospitalizations and huge population affected. This is illegal and dangerous. MSD should not turn a blind eye to such hazardous illegalities. They must act firmly without fear or favour in national interest otherwise we will soon have a national disaster at KCM.
“But the starting point should be for MSD to prohibit the provisional liquidator Mr. Milingo Lungu from the continued illegal running of the mine operations at KCM.
“According to Part 2 of the Mining Regulations, Mr. Milingo is an incompetent person. He has never had any adequate training and experience so as to enable him to perform the duty of manager of a mining operation without avoidable danger to himself or any other person. He is incompetent to be appointed by a holder of the mining right to be responsible for the control, supervision and direction of mining operations in accordance with Regulation 202 of 1971 and 1973, and as such he is a danger to himself and other persons within the mine and areas contiguous to the mine. Even Section 14 of the Mines and Minerals Development Act of 2015 prohibits what Mr. Milingo Lungu is doing at KCM. The MSD should stop this illegality forthwith,” Mr. Sinkamba said.