First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has received praise from the government for its efforts in empowering the community, local traditional leadership, and its employees through the return of land at the former Bwana Mkubwa mine in Ndola. The move marks a significant milestone in the rehabilitation and closure process of mining facilities as they near the end of their mine life.
Dating back to 1902, Bwana Mkubwa is the oldest copper mine in the Copperbelt. In 1996, FQM assumed ownership of the site to reprocess the existing tailings stockpile. By 2008, the reprocessing operation was completed, and the company embarked on the remediation and repurposing of the site.
This week, 135 hectares of land were allocated to the government and traditional leadership in separate parcels, while an additional portion was subdivided and granted to 338 employees through a rigorous allocation process. Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Hon. Elijah Julaki Muchima expressed his gratitude for the donation, stating that it addressed pressing land issues in the area.
“What we commonly know about First Quantum Minerals is the good things it does in Zambia and for the Zambian people. It is a big employer, a big taxpayer, and our own economy is actually dependent on First Quantum,” said Mr. Muchima. He commended the company’s significant corporate social investments and its contribution to local businesses and suppliers.
Bwana Mkubwa Member of Parliament, Warren Mwambazi, also appreciated the mining firm’s gesture in giving land to local people. However, he cautioned beneficiaries against engaging in illegal land allocation and urged the Ministry of Lands to promptly survey and title the provided land to prevent disputes.
Kyansenga Chitoshi, the Corporate Affairs Manager for FQM’s Kansanshi Mining, spoke on behalf of General Manager Anthony Mukutuma, highlighting the company’s people-focused policy that recognizes the contributions of Bwana Mkubwa employees over the years.
“FQM, the mining giant that exists today, was born right here at Bwana Mkubwa, and nobody in the company ever forgets where we started,” she said, emphasizing the special place Ndola holds in FQM’s history.
While FQM retains the certificate of title holder of a 99-year lease in two other plots where the Bwana Mkubwa Mine is located, some surface rights areas remain under the control of non-FQM small-scale mining license holders with the specific consent of FQM for access.
The return of land to the community by First Quantum Minerals is seen as a significant step in fostering sustainable and responsible mining practices, contributing positively to the social and economic well-being of the region.