By BENNIE MUNDANDO
MY ministry has suspended all mining operations by Luanshya Copper Mines including ground clearing in the Roan Basin until the mine meets all the conditions of approval of the project, Mines Minister Richard Musukwa has said.
Mr. Musukwa told the Sunday Nation that the Roan Basin Pit is part of the five open pits comprising ore sources for the Muliashi Copper Project of LCM.
He said the other four open pits were Muliashi North Pit, Muliashi South Pit, Baluba East Pit, and Baluba Central Pit.
He said the Roan Basin Pit Site is overlain with critical surface infrastructure that includes the Cricket Club, the Tennis Club and lies in close proximity to the main General Offices, soccer field and residential houses.
He said the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), with input from Mines Safety Department, approved the Muliashi Copper Project by CLM through a letter dated November 10, 2010.
He said the project was approved subject to, amongst other conditions, that “CNMC Luanshya Copper Mines Plc shall not implement mining of the Roan Basin which was close to the general offices for the company and the residential areas within the Town Centre without submitting a specific plan that shall be approved by relevant authorities.”
“With total disregard of the condition in the Decision Letter, management commenced clearing the site for the Roan Basin Open Pit and in the process disturbed some surface infrastructure such as the Cricket Club and the Basketball Court. Management’s explanation for this action was that they first wanted to clear the surface area and not to commence mining operations.
“They further claimed that they wanted to ward off the illegal miners by maintaining their presence on the ground. The truth of the matter is that clearing of the ground is commencement of project implementation. The company is in clear breach of the condition of approval of the project by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency,” Mr. Musukwa said.
He said for this reason, the ministry had suspended all mining operations, including ground clearing in the Roan Basin, until the mine meets all the conditions of approval of the project.
“Further, appropriate sanctions (penalties) will be applied on the mine as provided for under the Mines and Minerals Development Act in addition to sanctions to be applied by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency,” Mr Musukwa said.
By BENNIE MUNDANDO