Government has expressed concern over the increasing number of fatal accidents and prevalence of illegal mining activities among artisanal and small scale miners in the country.
Ministry of Mines acting Permanent Secretary Martin Nyirenda said artisanal and small scale mining have been associated with accidents and poor mining practices due to their lack of capacity to conduct mining that ensures environmental sustainability.
Speaking in Kitwe today during an Environmental Project Briefs workshop for artisanal and Small Scale miners, he said there is need to minimize the environmental harm caused by the extraction, processing and benefaction of minerals and materials.
” It is therefore important to build capacity of the artisanal and small scale miners with skills to better manage the environmental,” Mr. Nyirenda stated.
He expressed hope that the workshop will contribute towards attaining the aspirations of the new dawn government which seeks to increase production to three million tonnes in the next ten years.
He said this workshop will also inculcate artisan and small scale miners with relevant information essential to enable them conduct responsible mining and in turn lead to increased production.
He however stated that the Ministry of Mines as a mining regulating authority is assisting the artisanal and small scale miners to put in place environmental safeguards during mining operations.
Ministry in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme has also developed a compatible environmental protection toolkit anchored on existing environmental laws to further address non-compliance in environmental management through strengthening the artisanal and small scale miners capacity to manage the environment.
Earlier, Environmental Projects Briefs (EPB) Coordinator Liapa Mwanza said it had been difficult for artisan and Small scale miners to get Environmental Projects Briefs for their activities from the Zambia Environmental Management Authority (ZEMA) due to their inadequate financial capacity and inability to employment qualified technicians or experts to undertake their mining projects.
And St. Monica’s Alumni Mining cooperative complained that small scale mines fail to employ safe mining practices because they lack proper guidance from ZEMA.
Cooperative president Monica Mkandawire appealed to ZEMA to move around the country and conduct sensitisation programmes on mine safety to reduce accidents in mining activities being undertaken by artisanal and small scale miners.
“We also fail to apply safe mining practices due to lack of enough capital to invest in the safety of our activities,” Ms. Mkandawire said.
The workshop has attracted small scale miners from across the country, the academia and Non-Governmental organisations among other participants.