Friday, June 14, 2024

About Adults and Children: A Case of Mining in Lower Zambezi

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By Sean Tembo – PeP President

1. In any community, there are adults and children. Here, l don’t mean adults and children by age, no. I mean by thinking capacity. You may be shocked to learn that there are plenty of adults by age who think like children, just like there are plenty of children by age who think like adults. However, for a nation to thrive and prosper, the adults have to be in Government. If you have children in Government, then no matter your economic potential, it will remain just that: economic potential.

2. When you have adults in Government, they are able to think and plan long-term. They are able to make strategically beneficial decisions which are over and above the petty noises made by children in our society. And trust me, there will always be children who are not able to see beyond their nose, who will always stand ready to challenge and oppose certain strategic decisions. They will climb the tallest mountains and speak on top of their voices about why a particular strategic decision is bad. But a Government of adults is not supposed to be easily swayed by the noises made by children against certain strategic decisions. Instead, Government is supposed to explain itself with the same tact and firmness that a father would explain to his children why it is necessary to buy a 30×20 plot than buying a television set. In as much as the children might be temporarily deprived of watching Dora the Explorer or SpongeBob SquarePants, they will benefit in the long-term by having security of shelter.

3. Which brings me to the issue of the Copper mine in Lower Zambezi. I have said before way back around 2018, and l will say again now in 2023 that l am 100% in support of that mine project. That is not to say the project does not have any negatives, no. But the positives far outweigh the negatives. You see, Zambia is dependent on mining in general and copper mining in particular. Most of our mining pits in the Copperbelt are old. Sometime in 2019, Mopani had to shut down it’s Mindolo shaft because it is old and it was no longer economical to mine it. What all that means is that if we are going to sustain and perhaps increase our copper production levels, we need to open new mines to replace the old ones that are being shut down. Therefore, a new mine in Luangwa district will not only create employment and revitalize the economic prospects of the area, but it is also critical to our economic survival as a nation in terms of forex earnings and balance of payments position.

4. That is not to say the mining in the Lower Zambezi does not have disadvantages, of course it does. Actually, adults know that there’s nothing on earth which only has advantages and no disadvantages. Even eating t-bone everyday will soon give you gout! That means decisions have to be made not by looking at whether disadvantages exist, no. But by weighing advantages versus the disadvantages. In the case of the copper mining in Lower Zambezi, of course the disadvantages include possible air and water pollution as well as displacement of wildlife. The adult question to ask is; can these disadvantages be adequately mitigated? The answer is a definite yes. The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) just has to continuously monitor the copper mining activities and ensure that we do not have a repeat of KCM’s pollution of Kafue river.

5. This brings us to the current situation whereby Government has suspended all mining operations in the Lower Zambezi, apparently because an Environmental Restoration Plan was not submitted. To me, this sounds like a flimsy reason because an Environmental Restoration Plan is part of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which was long done and approved by ZEMA. You see, an EIA basically looks at all the environmental and archaeological issues that will arise from a proposed project and how the project sponsors intend to address those issues. The job of ZEMA in reviewing an EIA is to determine whether indeed all the pertinent environmental and archaeological issues have been identified and adequately addressed.

6. In the Lower Zambezi mining case, ZEMA approved the EIA and gave the project sponsors a go ahead to commence mining activities, which they did. My view is that it is not right for Government to now turnaround and halt mining activities on the pretext that a certain document was not submitted. If indeed a certain document was not submitted, it can be prepared and submitted while the mining activities continue. Halting all mining activities was an unnecessarily drastic decision on the part of Government. It may financially ruin not only the company undertaking this mining project but also has huge potential to ruin Zambia’s reputation as a mining destination in the eyes of international investors.

7. You see, mining is not only a complex activity, but it is also very expensive and delicate. For the project sponsors to have gone on site and commenced mining activities, they obviously had to sweat in convincing debt and equity investors alike to pump in hundreds of millions of dollars into the project. Before these investors could release their money, they had to weigh the risks of the project, of which an uncertain regulatory environment obviously ranked high up on the risk profile. The drastic decision of halting mining activities simply because of an alleged document which ZEMA overlooked before approving the project, has now actualized the risk of an uncertain regulatory environment. As we speak right now, the investors in this project are obviously debating whether to cut their losses and pull out of the project or hang in their. However, even if these investors decide to hang in there, the risk profile for the project has definitely gone up a hundredfold, which means the cost of financing will definitely go up for the project sponsors, much to their detriment. A Government of adults was supposed to know all this before taking the drastic decision of halting all mining activities.

8. Only a Government of children can think that a complex mining project such as the one in Lower Zambezi can be turned on and off like a light switch, at the whims of some bureaucrat sitting in a Ministry somewhere. In proper countries where the rule of law is respected and cherished, the drastic decision to halt these mining activities would be a good basis for a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Government. Therefore, other Governments out there would normally think long and hard before making such drastic decisions. But since we are in Zambia where the Judiciary sees the Executive as “mwana wapa nyumba”, such a potential lawsuit is farfetched.

9. Perhaps l can take this opportunity to directly address the children in our country, who have curved a career for themselves by opposing every developmental project. They opposed the proposed nuclear power plant in Chongwe area which was to be built by our Russian friends and would have possibly made us an electricity export powerhouse of the region, forgetting that all industrialized nations from the US to Japan to UK, China etcetera utilize nuclear energy for their electricity needs. These children in our country even opposed the construction of a shopping mall in woodlands next to St. Mary’s school, under the simplistic notion that it will disturb the learners, and blind to the mitigating measures proposed by the project sponsors in their EIA. These loudmouthed children of our country are now opposing the mining activities in Lower Zambezi on the pretext that it will displace wildlife, oblivious to the fact that the mine is located in a Game Management Area (GMA) and not a national park where the animals are located. Unlike a National Park, there are schools and hospitals and shopping malls in the GMA, and you can spend a month or two without seeing a single wild animal in a GMA. So which wild animals are going to be displaced as a result of mining activities? These same children of our country are also very self-contradictory because while they oppose mining activities on the basis that it will displace imaginary wildlife, they are quick to advocate for the reinstatement of safari hunting, which essentially involves killing animals not for food, but for trophies.

10. Anyway, our Government needs to decide whether it is going to be a Government of adults who are able to think and plan for the long-term benefit of this nation, or a Government of children who are easily swayed by the other loudmouthed children in our country. Children who can hardly see beyond their noses nor realize that for this nation to survive and prosper, we need mining. Diversification can come in due course, but for now we need mining. And our mining potential in the Copperbelt has significantly depleted, so we need new mines in other areas such as North-Western Province and Lower Zambezi. If we are not able to open new mines, our copper production will dwindle and with it our forex reserves, balance of payments position, exchange rate and overall economy. Indeed, if our Government is going to insist on being a Government of children, then they must step aside and pave way for adults to run the affairs of this nation. Adults who will be able to think and plan for the long-term good of Zambia.

22 COMMENTS

  1. If ever, God forbid, ST………

    Was to become president of zambia, ………

    The whole country would be a series of open holes in the ground looking for copper……..

    These are the kind of people who dont see the benifits of things like playing fields for children and relaxation…………

    If Zambians have not developed from the current mines , they won’t develop from more.

    Leave something for future generations

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    • When children make decisions, they always check whether there’s an applause from somewhere or not. If there’s any, they’ll proceed in that trajectory even if it doesn’t make sense. This is exactly what the UPND does. Even when there’s no applause, they try to instigate it. Just look at their self praise? We have a government of children. Unless they grow up, we don’t expect any serious change in the way things are done; no wonder we say this is change that wasn’t

  2. I have said it and will say it again. My brother from the east is far wiser and more intelligent than hh. Hh claims to be intelligent and yet he thinks like a slave who has seen a whlte person for first time. I hear it is hh birthday today. We hope he uses today to reflect on how bad of a leader he is. Happy birthday chikarla

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    • No one here is aware of anyone’s birthday only someone with too much time online based abroad trolling 24/7 has the time for it.

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  3. And there are also adult and children authors/ writers we know which catergory you fall in its definitely not adults…surely how can you expect ZEMA to continously monitor these miners when they failed to do so at KCM…they dont only have the capacity but lack bite to shut it down once the earthmovers move in.

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  4. He has said everything which can be understood by anyone. I love the bit about old mines. Only a fake miner can buy Mindola, Central and SOB shafts….so the now famous A SOLUTION WILL BE FOUND NEXT WEEK is just a ruse to buy time and cooling our rising tempers.

    • But you will not mention that corrupt PF bought the mine from Glencore using the little resources left in that are reachable…its like buying an old bus from someone and paying the seller with busfares you get and you dont make a profit because you still have to pay overheads; costly maintenance, staff salaries etc.

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    • There you go again. I don’t know everything but since you it all why don’t you just post for us see.

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  5. ST is a manchild how can he understand the environmental impact of a mine in a national park in 5 years time he will be back writing another article with bullet points about how the nation park has been left to deteriorate by the govt. This is a man with a young family who has decided to build a 2 storey mansion with 10 bedrooms then laid a hideous bright red carpet in it…surely can you get a sense from such a writer? Really laughable.

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  6. Child editor that wrote this article only sees things in financial sense. You are supposed to weigh the sentimental and humanity in this. Not everything has to make a profit. Some things are better left the way they are. These mines don’t benefit zambians at all. Profits are externalised and nothing comes in. Grow up chief editor

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    • The old European came to stay that’s why he put up all these infrastructure. The modern European is here to reap and go back home. He brings in prefabricated offices etc which he just dismantle, pack and move on to the next African country.

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    • Which modern European is it you are talking about in your parables? You mean the Chinese, its up to you to come up with social acts and policies

    • Tarino orange… The Chinese don’t own all the mines in Zambia and neither were they here when Cecil Rhodes started the mines here. It appears you are spoiling for a fight… sorry I’m not in the mood.

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    • I have to interject because you gibbering on about something in public like you are thinking out aloud to yourself.

  7. Let me ignore the mine and focus on Tembo’s Nuclear power argument. Nuclear Power is better utilised by countries which can afford maintenance, as well as consequential management. If you are as childish as Zambia is in its lack of the ethics to look after structures like Heroes Stadium, Government House, etc do you think you can manage a N plant? Would Under-Five Zambia manage financially or operationally a nuclear disaster such as Chernobyl or Fukushima? Nuclear energy is for those who need it. Japan is a tiny territory without hydro sources so it makes sense for it to have nuclear plants but presently they regret doing so.

    • I have heard the same argument Tembo is propagating on Nuclear power about Congo’s Inga hydro project. That it will make DRC an electricity export powerhouse of the region. Yes “Zambia in the sun” can secure energy resources by embarking on solar plants in Gwembe, Luapula, Luangwa, Mkushi etc.

  8. I support Mr. Tembo on the narrative that the mine is far away from the lower Zambezi proper. It’s in Rufunsa area and the impacts will not reach the most feared area. Now, the reported EIA was not approved by ZEMA but the Minister of environment upon appeal for the rejection of the same. ZEMA was forced to write a decision letter to the proponent in which letter the never believe in it. because it was politically approved then it should be stopped politically. Not using an innocent institution like ZEMA.

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