Huge land acquisition must be approved by President – Luo

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Huge land acquisition must be approved by President – Luo

Solwezi, February 15, ZANIS —–Government says the large size of land that First Quantum Minerals has acquired to develop Kalumbila Trident mining project must be approved by the Republican President and not a traditional ruler.

Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkandu Luo and Minister of Lands Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Wylbur Simusa said this during a meeting convened to resolve the standoff surrounding the implementation of the Kalumbila Trident mining project in Solwezi yesterday.

Among the issues surrounding the standoff are that Senior chief Musele, in whose area the mining project is underway, has been denying survey department officers from carrying out a site picking exercise to establish the actual size of land for mining activities.

The traditional ruler has also disowned the surface rights agreement he signed with FQM and the local people have also been reluctant to be relocated from their land to pave way for the mining project.

Prof Luo and Mr Simusa said that government has identified anomalies with the manner in which FQM acquired mining and surface rights in Kalumbila.

FQM acquired 518 km of land for mining activities and also applied for an additional 10,000 hectares on which it wants to develop a mining township.

The land in question was acquired through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and other agreements of compensation and settlement signed between the mining firm and Senior chief Musele of Solwezi.

However, Prof Luo and Mr Simusa said the MoU and other agreements entered into were illegalities because chiefs are only allowed to allocate 250 hectares of customary land and any size of land beyond that is supposed to be approved by the President.

And the two ministers have since given First Quantum Minerals (FQM) 45 working days in which to resubmit all application documentation for the Kalumbila Trident Mining project in Solwezi.

Prof Luo said chiefs have no right to enter into any MoU with any investor concerning land.

“From today on all future agreements concerning investment in chiefdoms will only take effect with the approval of the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs with authority from the President” she said.

Prof Luo said all future agreements concerning investment will only be done between relevant ministries and investors to avoid chiefs seeking personal benefits that deprive their subjects of their rights to access natural resources.

She said all royal highnesses hold all resources in their chiefdoms in trust of their subjects and government will ensure that benefits from various investments in chiefdoms accrue to the people and not individual chiefs.

The minister said she was going to communicate her position to all traditional rulers across the country.

She said while Zambians are looking for investment, the government will want investors to do right things through the existing laws of the country than the past government that was doing things anyhow.

And Mr Simusa said government is not saying that Kalumbila project is not going ahead, but that it is not happy with certain things that affect the community in the project layout plan.

He also called for wide consultation between FQM management and all stakeholders and between the Senior chief Musele and his people as they resubmit agreements to government for consideration of the project.

He further directed FQM not to tamper with the Forest Reserve, saying the mining firm must desist from illegal cutting of trees in Kalumbila as there is a ban on cutting trees.

Meanwhile FQM Country Manager, General Kingsley Chinkunli said the mining firm is ready to cooperate with government in order to carry out its development projects within the existing laws.

Speaking during the same meeting, Gen Chinkuli thanked the political will by the PF government to bring about coordination in the processing of necessary agreements for the implementation of the
trident project.

He said as a corporate citizen, FQM is ready to cooperate to carryout development on behalf of government, the local people and the mining firm.

He said government needs taxes and the Trident project will deliver on wealth and jobs, adding government must tell FQM management what must be done within the law and the company will comply.

The trident mining project will attract an investment US $275 million project (KR1.3 billion) and is expected to create 1, 500 jobs once completed.

The meeting which was called to resolve challenges of implementing one of Zambia’s biggest mining projects was also attended by Deputy Minister in the Vice president’s office Harry Kalaba, Lands Deputy Minister Danny Chingimbu and Senior chief Musele.

Others are Lands Permanent Secretary Daisy Ngambi, North Western province Permanent Secretary Augustine Seyuba, Commissioner of lands Barnaby Mulenga and senior managers from First Quantum Minerals.