Nsama Musonda Kearns Luapula, Zambia
While Copperbelt and North Western can point at some developments that have come out of commercial mining in terms of infrastructure and social corporate responsibility, Manganese Mining in Luapula has been a curse other than a blessing, because despite numerous tones of this base metal leaving the Province on a daily basis, communities are left with nothing but degraded land and dilapidated dusty roads that produce dust pollution worse than sulphur dioxide from a smelter. The huge open pits are dug right in the middle of villages, creating hazards for children and livestock and breading places for mosquitoes which contribute to the already high rate of malaria in the Province.
Transportation of Manganese has brought with it foreign trucks which park along the roadsides, and apart from contesting the road has much more devastating impacts among young girls and women who are now trading in sex witj truck drivers to earn a living, and increasing the number of sexually transmitted diseases being recorded in the province.
I fluxed by Chinese and Indian briefcase buyers, the demand for Manganese has now introduced blasting of ore, and as of last week, community members were complaining of houses cracking due to the explosives
Year in and year out we have discussed this amargeddon type of Mining through the Luapula Mining Insaka. We have explained these challenges to relevant authorities and those who have visited the said mines in Luapula have seen for themselves that we are sitting on a time bomb.
The new dawn government has proposed forming cooperatives as a way to enforce Mining regulations and promote coordinated Mining, as part of Formalising the Artisanal and small scale Mining Sector. But how do you form cooperatives without educating the people involved?
Care for Nature Zambia has been working with Government, traditional leaders, miners and communities to address the issue of Mining in Luapula Province, but these enormous challenges require coordinated efforts among stakeholders and investment to achieve sustainable, safe and profitable mining.
We can only appeal to the Ministry of Mines to take keen interest to regulate Manganese Mining before the are left with nothing but empty holes and high poverty and disease burden, while our mineral is exported to build economies of other countries.
Until then, Manganese Mining in Luapula Province remains a disaster awaiting management and mitigation.