POLICE in Kitwe yesterday surrounded a mine dump, commonly known as “Black Mountain,” which is notorious for illegal mining activities by a gang of copper thieves called Jerabos.
Recently, Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma directed police to secure the mine dump in Kitwe’s Wusakile while Government is trying to legalise mining activities in the restricted area.
A check by the Daily Mail found police officers from Kitwe’s Kamfinsa mobile unit at the entrance while others had surrounded the area.
This forced illegal miners to camp outside the perimeter before Wusakile ward councillor Davies Simunyola addressed them.
When contacted for a comment, Kitwe district officer commanding Lizzie Machina said she was not aware of the operation
“I am not aware that there are police officers at the dump site, I don’t know anything about the development,” Ms Machina said.
But Mr Yaluma said in an interview yesterday that Government wants to put in place safety measures at the mine dump before allowing people to operate from there.
Mr Yaluma said this is the reason why Government has directed police officers to secure the area to stop illegal mining activities until safety measures are put in place to safeguard lives.
The minister also said Government wants illegal miners operating from the dump to form cooperatives before they are given mining licences to legalise their operations.
“As Government, we want to ensure that there is sanity in the manner in which mining activities at the mine dump are being conducted.
“We want our people to form cooperatives and once they do that, we are going to train them on safety measures that are there in mining. We don’t want the youth to lose their lives because they are future leaders,” Mr Yaluma said.
He said the manner in which the illegal miners are currently operating is hazardous because they risk being buried alive when the caves at the mine dump collapse.
Mr Yaluma said it is Government’s desire to create employment for the youth in the mining sector and to ensure that they work in a safe environment.
And Mr Simunyola appealed to the illegal miners to remain calm and wait for Government to put in place safety measures before they can start operating at the mine dump.
“ Let us all disperse, let’s form cooperatives and follow what Government wants us to do so that we can return to the dumpsite and continue with our mining activities,” he said.
Samson Mpembwe, who spoke on behalf of the illegal miners, appealed to Government to quickly legalise operations at the mine dump because many people depend on it for their livelihood.
“We are told Government wants to give us licences first before we start operating. we are appealing to them to quickly hasten the process of giving us these documents. We depend on this dump for income,” Mr Mpembwe said.