SOUTHERN Africa Resource Watch (SARW) Zambia coordinator Edward Lange has appealed to the government not to abandon the corrective process simply to satisfy the interest of First Quantum Minerals, which has threatened to lay off 500 workers at its Kalumbila mine in Solwezi. And Zambia Congress of Trade Unions secretary general Roy Mwaba says mining activities taking root in North-Western Province should not turn out to be a nightmare.
Last week, First Quantum Minerals spokesperson John Gladston announced that the company would be forced to lay off 500 workers due to delays by ZEMA to lift the environmental protection order that has prevented further construction on the Chisola Dam, which provides water to the Sentinel Mines being constructed at Kalumbila.
Commenting on the matter yesterday, Lange said the statement by FQM was merely meant to blackmail the government. "Such threats are baseless and temporal as what we appeal for is the consideration of the main concerns of the host community in the area. "As civil society we are alert and adhering to the guidance given by government, and as such any mishandling of the process will not give any sustainable business environment for the company. We wish to appeal to government not to abandon the corrective process embarked just for the purpose of satisfying the interest of the operator," Lange said. "It has been three years now since the indigenous and host community started crying. FQM (First Quantum Minerals) has disregarded their concerns, and now that government has come to the aid of people. It should be a win-win situation."
He said Zambia Environmental Management Agency should be commended for the stance taken on the suspension of the construction of the dam. "We feel comforted, as these issues are bordering more on the future of the surrounding community. We raised such concerns even before the department of water affairs as early as 2012. ZEMA deserve our support from all the sectors, and this act should be investigated further and the culprits brought to book," said Lange. And Mwaba said FQM should learn from KCM, which recently decided against retrenching 2,000 workers. "We condemn such moves because this is going against the Zambian decent work agenda and the PF manifesto of job creation. We hope FQM will rise above what is only their best interest and enter into social dialogue with key stakeholders so that a way forward beneficial to all can be found," he said.