Approaches to sustainable minerals development in Zambia
Imasiku A. Nyambe, Vincent M. Kawamya, 2005. "Approaches to sustainable minerals development in Zambia", Sustainable Minerals Operations in the Developing World, B. R. Marker, M. G. Petterson, F. McEvoy, M. H. Stephenson
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Zambia is a land-locked country occupying an area of 752 614 km2, with the geology dominated by Archaean to Neoproterozoic age rocks that contain significant mineral resources. Economically, the most important of these are the Neoproterozoic Katangan rocks, which yield the copper and cobalt ores exploited in the Zambian Copperbelt. Copper and Cobalt exports account for over 80% of Zambia’s foreign exchange earnings. Coal-bearing rocks of Karoo age (Permo-Carboniferous to Early Jurassic age) occur in rift valley basins such as the mid-Zambezi Valley in the south of the country. Issues such as a lack of capital investment led to privatization of the Zambian large-scale mining industry. Smaller scale gemstone mining is becoming increasingly important. For example, in 1998, the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development granted over 200 gemstone-mining licences, 30 small-scale mining licences and prospecting permits, and over 70 artisanal mining rights for various minerals. A policy Framework Paper (1999–2001) published by the Zambian Government encourages the formalization of small-scale mining activities through the provision of licences for small-scale mining and gemstone trading, and the establishment of four regional mining bureaus for licensing and other services to the mining community. Furthermore, the Government has embarked on a Mining Sector Diversification Project with the support of the European Union, with the objectives of increasing export earnings through economic diversification, generating employment opportunities and contributing to poverty alleviation. In addition, the new policies and legal framework encourage private ownership of medium- and large-scale mining operations, and development of new mines. Currently, all former Government-owned mines that were under Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Limited have been privatized. These activities are slowly generating much needed new investment to the mineral industry in Zambia. For many years, copper mining has supported the social and economic development of Zambia, accounting for around 90% of all Zambia’s foreign exchange earnings in 1991. Copper reserves are steadily declining, with total reserves remaining estimated at just over 2 billion tonnes at an average grade of 2.51% total copper. There are no recent economic mineral deposits discoveries to replace depleting copper reserves. Lead and zinc mining at Kabwe finished in 1994 due to reserve depletion. The Maamba Coal Mine in the Zambezi Valley is in need of re-equipment and modernization. Gemstone mining and marketing needs a complete overhaul. This paper reviews the major issues that have contributed to decline in sustainable development of the mineral industry in Zambia and highlights initiatives, both private and public, currently undertaken to revitalize the sector.
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Sustainable Minerals Operations in the Developing World
The sustainable development of minerals, which are non-renewable resources, is a major challenge in today’s world. In this regard the true definition of sustainability’ is a debating point in itself: can such a concept exist with respect to non-renewable resources? Perhaps the ideal sustainability model is one that minimizes negative environmental impact and maximizes benefits to society, the economy and regional/national development. Developed and near-developed economies rely for commodity supplies on developing countries where major mining operations are often a mainstay of the domestic economy. Limited environmental regulation and low wages lead to charges of exploitation. Also, large numbers of people have no alternative to living by informal, often dangerous, ‘artisanal’ mining. This Special Publication gives examples from developing countries at all scales of mineral extraction. The volume reviews environmental, economic, health and social problems and highlights the need to solve these before sustainability can be achieved. The better solutions require mutual understanding, through full involvement of all stakeholders, education, training and investment so that small-scale ansd artisinal mines can grow into well-managed operations. At larger scales, most major interantional mining companies have now inoproved their practices and are monitoring their progress, although there is no room for complacency in this rapidly changing area.