The Minister of Green Economy and Environment, Hon. Eng. Collins Nzovu MP, has emphasized that the government has no intention of closing mining companies but rather urges them to comply with the laws of the country. The minister made this statement during a visit to mining companies in Sinazongwe District, Southern Province, to address concerns regarding pollution, blasting-related cracks, water contamination, and unauthorized operations.
Accompanied by his Permanent Secretary, Dr. Douty Chibamba, and officials from the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), Hon. Nzovu inspected Collum Coal Mine, Maamba Collieries Coal Mine, Seizic Mining Limited, and African Power Coal over the weekend. The purpose of the inspections was to assess compliance with environmental and safety regulations.
While some companies were found to be compliant, others were found to be non-compliant, raising concerns about unsafe mining methods, poor wastewater management, and lack of dust suppression mechanisms. The minister also noted that some mining companies have not adequately compensated the residents of licensed areas and urged them to fulfill their compensation obligations.
Hon. Nzovu expressed concern over air and water pollution, emphasizing the significance of proper wastewater treatment for the well-being of both people and animals who depend on the same water sources. He stressed the importance of mining companies and other investors obtaining the necessary environmental approvals from ZEMA, including compliance with the Environmental Management Act and other relevant regulations.
The government is committed to the expansion of the mining sector, but not at the expense of human health and the environment, Hon. Nzovu stated. He urged mining companies to fulfill their social corporate responsibility in the communities where they operate.
Senior Headman Siamududule from Mweemba Chiefdom highlighted the impact of dust and contaminated water on school children in the area. He called on mining companies to drill boreholes to provide clean drinking water for the affected communities and animals.
During the visit, the minister also inspected the resettlement village for Maamba Collieries Limited, which was established to accommodate approximately 60 families displaced by the construction of a water treatment plant for the Thermal Power Plant.
Christopher Kanema, Acting Director of Operations at ZEMA, assured that the agency would continue monitoring the compliance of all mining companies. He directed mining companies in Sinazongwe District to promptly comply with the requirements of the Environmental Management Act and adhere to the conditions of approval.
The mining companies involved pledged their commitment to ensuring the safety of mines and surrounding communities, as well as the protection of the environment.
The Ministry of Green Economy and Environment’s Communications Unit will remain engaged in addressing these concerns and promoting compliance within the mining sector.