Government says it is concerned over an increased number of mining accidents reported to be on an average of about sixteen (16) fatal accidents per annum.
As at 31st August 2022, the mining industry recorded 14 fatalities and 35 mines reportable or dangerous accidents adding that the increased number of accidents this year compared to the same period in 2021 that the industry recorded is of great concern to the government.
Mines and Minerals Minister Paul Kabuswe says it is government’s desires to have a growing mining industry using technology that generates benefits with zero negative impact on communities.
Mr. Kabuswe says it is for this reason his ministry is advising mining companies to employ mining methods and Technologies that guarantee sustainability.
The minister said this in a speech read on his behalf by Director Mines Development Malfred Molela during the 6th National Conference on Occupational Health, Safety and Environment which was held in Ndola under the theme “Achieving Excellence in Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Systems through Institutional Linkages and Networking.”
” Depending on how it is done, mining can impact the environment either positively or negatively adding that there can be no sustainable mining and subsequent development where there is no safety and care for the employees and the environment.
” My ministry has in the recent past expressed serious concern over the high incidences of mine and industrial accidents that have continued to occur and called on mining companies to take necessary measures to curb the trend, ” he said.
In order to improve occupational safety and health, there is a need to ensure that workers are guaranteed a safe work environment by the government, stakeholders, and mining and contractor companies.
Mr. Kabuswe said the government’s goal is “zero fatality” which he noted is a challenge but pointed out that it is achievable with the right investment and attitude.
And Zambia Chamber of Mines President Godwin Beene said sustainable growth in the industry is becoming more urgent as the mining sector targets to achieve three (3) million metric tons of copper production per annum.
Dr. Beene said this can only be achieved with improved occupational health, safety and environment systems.
He said the chamber considers promotion of sound occupational health, safety and environment practices as one of the key pillars for achieving sustainable and responsible mining, in line with its mission.
Dr. Beene said the 6th HSE national conference is important for engagement specifically in sharing ideas, international best practice and providing a platform where members are able to foster team building in order to enhance stakeholder value, supported by strong and sustainable improvement practices for the mining industry.
Meanwhile, International Labour Organization (ILO) Occupational Safety and Health Specialist for Eastern and Southern Africa Peneyambeko Alina Munkawa reaffirmed ILO’s availability to support the promotion, domestication, and application of conventions key to achieving excellence on OSH.