Kitwe Mayor Mpasa Mwaya has called for the suspension of operations at the Black Mountain in Kitwe owing to continued disregard for environmental and road safety regulations by operators.
Heavy trucks carrying material from the Black Mountain have been seen emitting dust while dropping part of the slug on Chibuluma Road and other roads near the Kitwe Central Business District.
When checking on the impact of transporting material from Black Mountain on the community, Ms Mpasa described the situation as chaos.
The Kitwe Mayor said stakeholders in Kitwe are worried over the negative impact of Black Mountain operations on the environment and roads.
Ms. Mwaya said President Hakainde Hichilema must urge Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Paul Kabuswe and his Copperbelt counterpart Elisha Matambo to halt operations at the Black Mountain.
She said there is a need to resolve environmental and road safety concerns before allowing operations at the Black Mountain to resume.
Ms. Mpasa said the Ministry of Mines should also involve Kitwe City Council in bringing sanity at the Black Mountain.
She said Kitwe City Council should not only be engaged when things get bad as a result of operation at the mineral rich mine site.
“My appeal to the Minister of Mines Paul Kabuswe and the Minister of Copperbelt Elisha Matambo and the leadership of the Consortium is that the immediate action they need to do is to halt this operation. There are no two ways about it. Halt the process, re-design the whole programme and involve the local authority (Kitwe City Council) that is now being involved at times such as this to just remedy the issue of dust suppression. The councilor has complained, the residents are fatigued, businesses are affected. There is total chaos in Kitwe,” Ms Mpasa told ZNBC News.
“We cannot have the continued activity like this and my submission to his Excellency (President Hakainde Hichilema) as well as the Mines Minister is that the President needs to instruct the Mines Minister as well as the Copperbelt Minister to rethink the operation,” she said.
“We are really being affected by the dust. This area has just become something else, it is not the way it used to be,” one Kitwe resident complained.
But Black Mountain Consortium spokesperson Kangwa Kamando says suspending operations at the mine site won’t be a lasting solution.
Mr. Kamando, the United Party for National Development (UPND) Copperbelt Youth Chairman, said operators are being engaged to follow environmental and road safety regulations.
He said the abnormal dust emissions observed in Nkana West and part of the Kitwe Central Business District this week was due to the breakdown of the water bowser being used to suppress dust.
“The water bowser has had a breakdown that is why the last two days; there are quite a number of complaints from the residents and the speeding of the trucks. We have therefore engaged the operators to talk to their drivers as they come to get the material and also we should get a second water bowser to ensure that our roads are watered every morning so that we reduce the dust that is in the community,” Mr. Kamando said.
Chaos has continued to characterize operations at the Black Mountain.
Last Friday, some youths rioted near St. Anthony and Kandabwe Compounds in Kitwe to air their grievances regarding the material they are being given from the Black Mountain.
The irate youths, who blocked part of Chibuluma Roads with stones and logs, alleged that they are being given worthless material from the Black Mountain.
The New Dawn Government recently handed over a 30% portion of the Black Mountain to community cooperatives.
In a related matter, Mines Minister Paul Kabuswe has announced the suspension of illegal gold mining in Mumbwa’s Matala area.
A number of illegal miners have been buried alive at the Matala gold mine.
“Starting today, I am asking through his royal highness (Senior Chief Shakumbila) that we suspend any mining around here. Number two, all illegal settlements around the mine must be brought down,” Mr. Kabuswe told a group of illegal miners during a community meeting.
Senior Chief Shakumbila added:”I called the Ministers myself to come and see how you people are living. And they should guide how you should continue staying if you want to live here.”