Copper Belt/Former copper mining centre in Kitwe, under new attack, this time by illegal and small scale mining

Nkana in Kitwe was one of the key mining centres in Zambia since the 1930’s. Communities were created by this industry which brought great wealth of corporations and the economy but hardships for local communities. With the decline of copper, a new problem has emerged with illegal and small scale mining.

Monitors in Nkana West, Kitwe have been following this development. Here are recent posts.

  • Mining The Black Mountain

Nsama Musonda Kearns 28/05//2018]

Barely 3 months after the government of Zambia granted the Copperbelt small scale miners popularly known as “Jerabos” permission to mine at the Nkana slag dump also known as Black Mountain, several houses in a nearby mine area called Nkana West have been destroyed.

The story of the Black Mountain began as way back as 2011 when ZCCM (Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Limited) began talks with Chambeshi Metals and Tianjin Maolin on the transfer of the slag materials to its subsidiary Nkana West Alloy the company which was created to exploit the Nkana West slag dump materials. However, following rumours of the rich contents of copper, gold and other precious minerals being found in the slag materials, a gang of notorious youths going by the fearsome gangster name Jerabos from the neighbouring highly populated Wusakile township which is affected by poverty and unemployment invaded the Black Mountain and began conducting illegal mining. In 2016 towards the general elections, the government promised to give Jerabos shares in the slag damp

After the elections, there were number of court cases involving the Black Mountain between the Jerabos and mining companies that had legal rights. In 2017, the Kitwe high court granted the Jerabos permission to mine on the dump while they awaited for final court rulings. On February 19th 2018, the president met the Jerabos kingpin popularly known as Shimumbi and his counterpart Chile at state house and promised them to resolve the Black Mountain once and for all. In keeping his promise the president ordered for immediate discontinuation of the case in court and on 27th February the mines and minerals minister in the company of the home affairs minister travelled to Kitwe to break the good news to the Jerabos that they were officially granted shares of up to 20% in the Black Mountain. This news led to jubilation and freshly pledged allegiance to the ruling party. Despite the numerous health and environmental hazards that the dump come with, the area is now under the mercy of a fearsome gang that has power enough to even manipulate a large governing system.

Houses in Nkana West were destroyed by  rocks that came from the blast which occurred due to explosives that were used to blast a wall which was blocking an area that was intended for mining. The Jerabos hired a blasting company to do the work. Efforts to get pictures failed as most houses are in walled fences and people are sceptical of letting strangers take pictures

 

  • Jearobos are Like Zama Zamas in South Africa, but more wealthy

Mwyia Mwandawande 28/05/08

Jerabos are like Zama Zama in SA but they are more sophisticated in Zambia. They are  very wealthy and influential. They make money through illegal mining and sale of stolen copper.Government was trying to appease them by offering them 10% of a copper dump site.. But they used illegal mining methods which led to the blast

 

  • Blasting the Community

Belinda Miti  28/05/2018

Our office close to the site had windows broken. It is a sorry situaton. The office is less than 200m away from the dump site. The office belongs to Ecoview. We had people  in the office at the time the incident happened. We were not given any notice prior to the blasting.No information was given at the time of blasting. We have a number of windows broken. We have also noted some cracks on the building. It should be noted that that this is a residential area.At the time of blasting We noted children around. After the blast, we had a lot of dust and fumes. I am not sure  of the health repercussions this may have especially  on the children.

 

Evironmental and health Hazzards

Nsama Musonda Kearns 12/06//2018]

The mine dump was created from the tailing which came from Nkana smelter which was commissioned in 1931 by the Anglo American Corporation of South Africa. The environmental hazards are that tailing contains large amounts of pyrite and iron which are reactive towards air. With the current activities taking place at the dump,  a lot of waste copper particles are being blown in the air and people who live in the nearby compound like Wusakile are likely to suffer the most.  Wusakile is a township that was built for, African mine workers and currently has serious water and sanitation issues. Pollution from black mountain is likely to affect the already poor peoples health who also have the largest rubbish dump of Kitwe very nearby.