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Hand pickers banned at Black Mountain

By ROGERS KALERO

GOVERNMENT will not allow chrome or hand pickers to operate at the Black Mountain following their riotous behaviour on Tuesday, but has instead identified four sites where the slug will be off-loaded for them to operate, Copperbelt Permanent Secretary, Augustine Kasongo, has said.

Mr Kasongo said Government had decided to permanently stop chrome pickers from accessing the Black Mountain after a three-hour meeting with the Zambia Police Service and Mine Safety Manager barely a day after they were suspended from operating at the copper ore slug dump for running amok in protest against the two hours that was allocated to them to operate at the site.

On Tuesday, irate youths ran amok and damaged several vehicles in protest against the two hours’ time flame that was allocated to them to operate at the Black Mountain, a situation which disrupted operations at the site which had attracted youths from as far as Lusaka.

Mr Kasongo told a media briefing that they have decided to permanently stop chrome pickers from accessing the site.

“Because of the riotous behaviour of the chrome or hand pickers on Tuesday, we have agreed to have the Black Mountain de-congested. The chrome pickers have abrogated the mine regulations which Government will not tolerate as it is dangerous to the country.

“However, four sites have been identified outside the Black Mountain where chrome pickers will be operating from. Government only wants to see the consortium and machinery at the mining site as opposed to what has been happening,” Mr Kasongo said.

He said truck drivers or transporters will be engaged at the site so that they can allocate about 20 trucks which will be loading the materials for offloading at the four sites. He said no chrome picker will be allowed inside the mining site and that they will today be shown where they will be picking the chrome from.

Mr Kasongo, who later addressed the youth at the mining site, castigated them for damaging public property and advised them to work in harmony, but could not tell them during the address that they will not be allowed to work from the Black Mountain.

And speaking later, Copperbelt Province Acting Police Commanding officer Tresphord Kasale said his officers are ready to provide security to the people that will be operating at the mining site to avoid confusion.

And earlier in the morning, Mr Kasale and Kitwe District Commissioner Lawrence Mwanza attempted to engage the youth on the way forward, but failed as they refused to listen to them and instead opted to pick chrome.

Some youths were in the early hours of yesterday seen standing opposite the Black Mountain as police in full riot gear kept vigil at the mining site to ensure law and order.

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