The Copperbelt Civil Society Mining Forum has appealed to President Hakainde Hichilema to explain to the nation what the plan is, on Konkola Copper Mine – KCM and Mopani Mine this year.
Forum Chairperson Gerald Mutelo stated that the Government should explain if they have the capacity to run the Mines or they will bring in a private sector locally or foreign, adding that the communities where these mines are located are in a distress as there isn’t any liquidity in the economy, no money in circulation, contractors and suppliers are not being paid as the mines are barely surviving with operations, workers have not received any increments on their salaries and some miners employed by contractors have lost their jobs as their respective companies cannot maintain their workforce owing to non-payment of costs by the two mines.
“This has led to increased suffering on the host communities, there is a need for the government to tell the nation on the relationship between Vedanta Resources and our government, the government should make full disclosure of the contract it has with glencore over Mopani, what did they really agree? Efforts by our forum to engage the Mines Minister has failed despite making public pronouncements that the government has an open door policy therefore our appeal goes to the Republican President to respond,” he mentioned
He noted that the Government should outline its plans on the future of the two mines to also inspire hope and confidence among the employees and all the stakeholders in the mining value chain.
And Mr Mutelo said that their Forum has information that Luanshya Copper Mines – LCM will be closing its Baluba Mine on the basis that Copper Ore at that Mine has been depleted which has consequently led to the non-renewal of contracts including JCHX which is the main contractor. In view of the foregoing ,there have been assurances that all affected employees under JHCX will be redeployed to other operational mining sites of JHCX however their Forum feels that more needs to be done in terms of legitimizing this process.
“We further demand that LCM to explain its exit plan for Baluba Mine by availing the Environmental impact Assessment [EIA} report,” he said
And Mr Mutelo cited that the government should inform the Public on the beneficiaries of the black mountain in Kitwe, hence, appealing to the government to give the youth and women all the slag dumps (black mountains) on the Copperbelt like it has done in Kitwe.
Meanwhile, Mr Mutelo has called on both the Ministry of Mines and Ministry of Energy to start encouraging Mining firms to start producing their own electricity like Dangote in Ndola and First Quantum Minerals – FQM in Kalumbila, adding that the issue of Load Shedding affects a lot of the vulnerable community members because of the Mining Firms which consume over 50% of the national installed capacity of electricity.
“If all mining firms start producing its own electricity this will help the manufacturing industries and small & medium enterprises (SMEs) who rely on electricity for survival, such as barber shops butcheries, saloons, bakeries etc,” he said
He alluded to the need for the government to create an enabling environment for more private sector participation in the energy sector and not just concentrating on hydro power but also using other sources of energy such as solar, or wind.
And Mr Mutelo said that their Forum has welcomed the move by the Government to open an electric car battery manufacturing factory to be based in Ndola on the Copperbelt, this will be a Joint Venture between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as it will lead to job creation and economic improvement in the host town and surrounding areas, and it will add value to the country’s minerals and create a market for manganese, cobalt and copper Mines, it will also empower small scale miners of manganese especially in areas like Luapula Province where the mineral is in abundance.
Mr Mutelo however expressed concern as to why Zambia should enter into a joint venture with the DRC through an Memorandum of Understanding – MoU when all resources needed to undertake the operations of the factory are all readily available in Zambia.
“We are demanding for a full disclosure of the terms of the MoU between the two governments, furthermore an EIA report should be conducted by ZEMA since minerals are involved, government should also disclose its plans for residents who may be adversely affected by the setting up of the factory through for example displacement,” Mr Mutelo said
The Copperbelt Civil Society Mining Forum is an alliance of Civil Society organisations, faith based organisations, trade unions and churches based on the Copperbelt, whose objectives is to lobby and advocate for good governance, transparency and accountability in the mining sector to ensure community beneficiation, environmental, protection, job creation, business & human rights and good mining policies/laws.
The Forum comprises of organisations such as, Democratic Governance & Human Rights Advocates (DEGHA), Mine Workers Union Of Zambia (MUZ), Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW), Catholic Diocese of Ndola, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ), Emerald and Semi- Precious Minerals Association of Zambia (ESMAZ), Citizen For Transformation Network (CTN), Future Preneur Zambia (FPZ), Copperbelt Trade and Development Forum (CTDF), Sustainable Natural Resource Empowerment Imitative (SUNREI), Action for Sustainable Development (ASD), and Activists for Justice and Development (AJUDE).