Copperbelt based good governance activist Peter Mulenga has implored the Government through the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development to provide clear policy direction on the suspended operations at mineral dump sites commonly known as Black Mountains.
Mines and Minerals Development Minister Paul Kabuswe last September announced the suspension of operations at mineral dump sites mostly run by small-scale miners in Kitwe, Luanshya, Chingola and Mufulira.
When making the announcement, Mr. Kabuswe told journalists in Lusaka that he had suspended operations at slug dumps in order to restore sanity and ensure that more people benefit from the operations.
Four months after suspending the operations at the dump site, Mr. Kabuswe has not publicly updated the nation on this issue.
Commenting on the development, Mr. Mulenga, who is also a business executive, said the Government needs to deal with the issue of the black mountains urgently.
He said as the Government contemplates on the issue it must realise the need to come up with a strategy in a bid to turn the slag dumps on the Copperbelt into more viable operations that will benefit more people.
Mr. Mulenga warned that the Ministry of Mines should ensure that mineral dump sites are not hiked by rich people and foreigners.
“The issue of the black mountain has been quiet, we need the Government to give a clear direction. The Government needs to deal with the issue of the black mountain now otherwise it will come to bite them,” he said.
“Zambia, like many other developing countries, is grappling with high youth unemployment levels. Due to the growing challenge of youth unemployment, in my personal opinion the Government should formulate and come up with a strategy in my view that will turn the slag dump both in Kitwe and Luanshya into a revenue and tax generator,” he said.
“In line with this, the Government should implement a number of initiatives such as youth empowerment fund and skills development for youth entrepreneurs. No big shots should be included. There is also evidence that some of the big business shots in the country got their wealth through the black mountain,” Mr. Mulenga said.
He said mineral dump sites should benefit vulnerable and jobless youths.
“Some of the big businesses would not therefore want to let go of this opportunity thereby disadvantaged youths. Therefore, the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development should ensure that big businessmen/Chinese do not hijack the Black Mountain project.”
“Needless to say, the Government has no business babysitting big shots or rather making the already rich richer at the expense of many jobless youths. This is why Government should make sure the Slag dumb benefit the right people and these are jobless youths. This will certainly ensure that more of them benefit, thereby contributing to poverty reduction,” Mr. Mulenga said.
Mr. Mulenga further advised potential beneficiaries of operations at Black Mountains to be more responsible and disciplined to ensure that they grow and contribute to the development of the country.
“It is therefore hoped that while the Government is working to empower youths they will also rise to the occasion and use the opportunities given to them. And youths need to be more responsible and disciplined to ensure that they grow and contribute to the development of the country as a whole,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Copperbelt based youth activist Chanda Katema has urged Mines Minister Paul Kabuswe to clearly explain how he will ensure that small-scale mining at copper slug dumps benefits many people.
Mr. Katema said the Mines Minister should also explain what kind of operations have been suspended because some slug dumps like in Kitwe are largely owned by foreign investors.
He added that there is a need to detach politics from the operations of Black Mountains by youths.