GOVERNMENT suspends operations at Konkola Deep Mining Project

Konkola Copper Mines
Konkola Copper Mines

GOVERNMENT has suspended operations at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM)’s Konkola Deep Mining Project (KDMP) in Chillilabombwe.
This follows last Friday’s underground accident which left seven miners injured with one of them in a critical condition.
Mines, Energy and Water Development Deputy Minister Richard Musukwa said yesterday that Government had with immediate effect suspended normal hoisting activities at KDMP pending detailed investigations.
Mr Musukwa said preliminary investigations in the accident revealed that there were high levels of negligence by KCM.
He said in a statement in Kitwe that an inspection of the shaft conducted by senior inspectors of  machinery and explosives, in the company of KDMP engineers revealed that the balance rope was severely damaged at multiple points.
He said apart from that, the rope was also completely cut at one point as well as entangled to the steel structures in the shaft at another point.
“The bottom of the shaft was filled with spillage from about 1500 metres level up to about 1,478 which is over 20 metres of spillage,” he said.
He said the source of the massive spillage into the shaft and circumstances leading to the multiple rope damage were being investigated.
“Rising from this, Government has with immediate effect suspended normal hoisting activities at number four shaft pending detailed investigations, thorough risk assessment of the affected area, safe
clearance of spillage at the shaft bottom and eventual change of the damaged balance rope,” he said.
Mr Musukwa said from the summary report of the accident, the seven miners were in the cage that was moving at eight metres per second from ground to surface when it was brought to a sudden stop, followed by snapping of the balance rope.
He said the cage had a capacity of 50 people but had only seven passengers at the time of the accident.
“This meant that there was a lot of room, free room for the men to be thrown to and from the edges of the cage until it stabilised and this caused injuries to all persons on board,” he said.
Mr Musukwa said it was clear that the safety of miners at KDMP could not be guaranteed hence the decision to suspend the hoisting activities.
KCM public relations manager Shapi Shacinda when contacted said he  was not in a position to comment by press time.
Mr Shacinda, however, said the company would today issue a statement over the matter.
The injured miners included Thomas Mukopa, 34, a cage tender, who sustained serious head injuries and had since been evacuated to South Africa for specialist treatment.
The others are Francis Chola, 35, Jokonoa Tembo, 45, Francis Mondo, 28, Desmeil Mwale, 39, Ackim Zulu, 38 and Hector Sinkamba, 33.