Black mountain accident caused by Chapamo’s failures – Govt

At least 10 illegal miners, commonly known as Jerabos, have been confirmed dead while seven are seriously injured after the infamous Black Mountain collapsed on them

THE government has handed back the black mountain to small-scale miners (jerabos) but with conditions attached.

The government had suspended operations at the mountain following the loss of ten miners.

At a briefing held at the mines safety department in Kitwe on Friday, mines minister Richard Musukwa said before operations could commerce at the slag dump, it was important that Chapamo Mining and Mineral Processing reorganised their structures so as to enable coordinated operation.

Musukwa said the company should conduct a geotechnical assessment to ascertain the stability of the slag dump.

He said the company should also put up a system that would ensure that members of the public were also benefiting from the slag dump without all residents taking part in the mining of minerals.

“As the government, we have directed your company to conduct and obtain approval for environment impact assessment consistent with the type of operations that will be authorised by a license that will take care of the on-site and off-site environmental impacts and also erect a security fence and also engage security personnel to man the area and provide identity cards to ensure there are no unauthorised persons at the site,” he said.

Musukwa further said that investigations have indicated that the cause of the accident at the slag dump was due to the failure of the mine owners to supervise and control the operations.

He said there was too much disorganisation within the Chapamo Mineral Processing company thereby prompting all members of the public to access the mountain.

“The accident was caused by the failure to effectively supervise, direct and control operations at the black mountain as provided by the mining managers and there were no documented safe operation procedures such as log books to document work assignments on site and also lack of mechanisms to ensure benefits accrue to the immediate community without everyone directly participating in mining operation at the slag dumpsite,” he said.

And Chapamo director Kelvin Tembo said his company was not in a hurry to reopen the mountain, as they want to assure that all safety measures were put in place so as to avoid future accidents.

He said the conditions might seem to be too harsh to others but they were favourable inasmuch as they were safeguarding the lives of the small-scale miners.

“Lives were lost and we do not want to rush in reopening. The conditions that have been set to one, that may sound harsh but they are not as there is nothing that can be compared to the loss of lives and we are going to work through and follow it to the letter,” he said.

And Wuzakile member of parliament Pavyuma Kalobo urged the small-scale miners to behave accordingly and invest into other businesses once they generate profits from the slag dump.

He said the small-scale miners should operate with caution as they would not be given back the slag dump if it is shut down again.

“One day the mountain will be gone; it is not a permanent thing, so the money that you are making support your families, take your children to school and invest in other businesses,” said Kalobo.