Zambia: Communities continue to live in abject poverty and environmental hazards as mines continue to pollute the environment, says church group
Author: Henry Longbottom, Jesuits European Social Centre (Belgium), Published on: 3 April 2017
"A choking beast of prey – Mega Mines in Zambia", March 2017
We visited Kankoyo and Chingola, two townships situated approximately 50km north of Kitwe in the Copperbelt region of northern Zambia...Kankoyo sits in the shadow of the Mufulira mine, smelter, concentrator and refinery...When we arrived, the air was thick with sulphur and dust....Mufulira is owned by Mopani Copper Mines, of which the global mining giant Glencore has a majority stake. Incredibly profitable, according to the European Investment Bank, Mopani has generated at least $560 million in tax revenues for Zambian government coffers since 2000. Why then do its neighbours live in abject poverty, suffering from unemployment and harm to health?...The people of these towns see nothing of the mine tax revenues and they are likely to die prematurely from the effects of pollution because state regulators do not compel companies to improve conditions. The wretched conditions of Kankoyo are documented in a 2012 film “Zambia: Good Copper, Bad Copper” [see Glencore's response to the documentary here]...As with Kankoyo, Chingola is an impoverished township of mostly former mine workers. Close by is Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) which is held by the Indian-owned, although London-registered, company, Vedanta. In 2006 KCM spilled a huge quantity of raw copper, manganese and cobalt effluents into the Mushishima and Kafue rivers which supply water to households in Chingola. Thousands were poisoned, leading to serious sickness and suspected premature deaths... [In a lawsuit against KCM by local residents over the pollution, in 2011] the High Court…ordered KCM to pay a total of $2 million to 2000 residents in Chingola…[On appeal] the Supreme Court upheld the High Court decision…[but made] it more difficult for residents to get damages by requiring claimants to obtain expensive medical reports. As such, to date, none of the residents have received any compensation. Perhaps the most distressing aspect of Chingola’s situation is that KCM appears to continue to contaminate the Mushishima river...