BLACK MOUNTAIN IN LIMBO: AS THEY AWAIT GOVT TERMS FOR NEW CONDITIONS

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By NATION REPORTER

COMPANIES at the copper slag in Kitwe, commonly known as Black Mountain, are still awaiting new conditions from Government for them to resume operations.

The firms, operating under Chapamo Mineral Processing Limited, said the Government had not given fresh conditions under which they could start operating.

Operations were suspended in June this year after a fatal accident claimed 11 lives at the Black Mountain.

Chapamo director Kelvin Tembo said in an interview that operations remained suspended and that all the companies had no access to the site.

“We are hoping that the Government can expedite to give us new conditions so that we can resume operations. At the moment, we have no access to the site and there is no fixed date as to when such conditions will be given,” he said.

However, Chapamo has continued paying salaries to all 150 employees.

Mr Tembo said his team had worked out improved safety measures which included access control, fencing and operational compliance guidelines.

“Of course, we`ve worked out safety measures on paper. But we`ll need to do it thoroughly in practice such as fencing off the entire area and boosting the number of State police to ensure access is only for employees,” he explained. Mr Tembo said the empowerment programme for bereaved families was on-going while transport and other logistics were being provided to one of the survivors, who got injured in the accident.

He said the victim had been going for physiotherapy and that Chapamo would continue meeting his needs.

“We are not operating and revenue is not forthcoming, but the empowerment programme for the bereaved families in on-going. It is not compensation because the people who died were not our workers,” he said.

In June this year, Government instructed the Mine Safety Department to conduct an investigation and also ordered suspension of operations.

Government had allocated 10 per cent of the Black Mountain to small-scale miners under Chapamo while Nkana Alloy owned by the Chinese, has 90 per cent stake in the copper slag.

Chapamo Minerals Processing Limited, a special purposes vehicle, extracts copper concentrates from the slag

According to Chapamo, the 11 deceased persons were not part of the operations but came from various townships to extract chrome from the slag early in the morning without the knowledge of management.

An operator of the excavator who was on top at the mountain did not know that there were some outsiders scavenging for material in the pits and pushed the material which caved on them.

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