Mbonge dwellers bid farewell to illegal quarrying
Published On February 9, 2014 » 3146 Views» By Administrator Times » Features
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A SEVENTY-year-old stone crusher recently died after a rock fell on her in Hills View area in Chipata.
Josephine Zulu met her fate after she attempted to dig out a stone for crushing from a tunnel.
The upper layer of the tunnel collapsed on her and she sustained broken legs, body injuries and eventually died.
This is however, one of the many fatal accidents that have resulted from the illegal stone crushing business which has characterised many parts of Zambia.
It is for this reason that First Quantum Minerals (FQM) Kansanshi Mining Plc has put smiles on the faces of more than 200 families by providing them with financial support for sustainable alternatives to the illegal quarrying near the plant area in Solwezi.
The company has spent more than K1.5 million to empower the people of Mbonge, Kabwela and Kabitaka communities who have long carried out stone-crushing activities in Kakasha area, which the mining company considers illegal and hardly beneficial.
Most of the beneficiaries are those that were illegally crushing stones within the mining company’s precincts.
Kansanshi Mining Plc decided to put up tailings in the location of illegal quarrying and resolved to empower people with alternative means of raising a sustainable livelihood.
The mine has, in its bid to empower the local community, mooted various alternative livelihood projects meant to discourage the local people from engaging in illegal quarrying activities.
This is aimed at enhancing new business ventures with a sustainable focus.
During a tour of the Mbonge area where most of the beneficiaries have set up their new businesses, Gehane Ntaimo, the Kansanshi Mining Plc Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, said it was the responsibility of the mining firm to empower the local people to do legal and sustainable business.
He said the company was geared to spur sustainable development for the local people and had come up with an integrated approach so that those being empowered benefitted without undue encumbrances.
Mr Ntaimo said as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) mandate, Kansanshi Mining Plc would always conduct community assessments and follow adaptive strategies to increase the beneficiaries’ knowledge on how best to run their businesses.
“Kansanshi Mining Plc has taken care of 200 families who were engaged in the illegal business of crushing stones near the mining plant.
This idea came about because these people needed to have alternative livelihood projects which are also sustainable,” Mr Ntaimo told SOLWEZI TODAY.
However, out of the resources that the firm gave out, the beneficiaries had their own choices of what business to undertake; with some choosing poultry rearing, vegetable farming, fish farming or block-making while others decided to procure hammer mills.
Mr Ntaimo said the mining company realised that providing sustainable alternatives was a sure way to mitigate poverty and bring about progressive change in the socio-economic conditions obtaining in the communities. “We believe that the teaching of new skills will help the locals run their own enterprises.”
One beneficiary, Elliot Malele who was engaged in stone-crushing in Kakasha area near the mine plant, said he was elated by the management’s consideration of a positive way of empowering him through the purchase of a hammer mill.
He said he never thought of owning a hammer mill, and when the machinery was delivered through Kansanshi’s CSR Department, he could not believe his blessing and promised to do the best for himself and the family.
“I was engaged in the illegal business of crushing stones and it was so labour-intensive. I now count myself blessed because of what Kansanshi Mining Plc has done to me. They have empowered me by procuring a hammer mill which I will call mine, and this will go a long way in alleviating the suffering of my family,” he enthused.
Enock Chindalo, another beneficiary who bought a hammer-mill using his resettlement compensation package, said what the company had done to the local community was encouraging and that the people would ensure that they developed entrepreneurially.
Mr Chindalo said he was equally appreciative of the mining company’s business development courses which have put participants in good stead by exposing them to basic business management.
The locals in Mbonge area have formed poultry production groups, with their chicken runs having been constructed by contractors who engaged the work force from the local communities.
Mr Ntaimo said Kansanshi Mining Plc had a deliberate policy for such community projects which entailed contractors seeking local labour to erect chicken runs as the practice inculcated in the community a sense of ownership.
“The mining company has deliberately stated that contractors should look for local labour when putting up such structures in the communities because that gives the locals a sense of ownership and they will protect the establishments as theirs,” he said.-Feature courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS.

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