A sad tale of how the Copperbelt's mining dumps have led to children being recruited into a dangerous business :
The author focuses on the "illegal behaviour" of children but clearly the big problem is that mining companies have not lived up to their responsibility. In a separate para the author suggests "...because of limited manpower, KCM security cannot be everywhere at all times to police the mine dumps". This should not be condoned. The failure by KCM to address this disaster is at the heart of the problem - and this problem is affecting the lives of children. In face of poverty one is not surprised that children are being recruited in dangerous child labour. This is all due to the ecological genocide that the mines continue to perpetuate, of which this is just the latest reported manifestation. When KCM took over the mines it also purchased the obligations to safeguard the dumps. Government must do a better job to ensure these costs are properly internalised. Wasting the lives of our children and police resources to handle a problem that KCM should be sorting out is not a sound approach to governance. I have previously touched on the environmental problems on Mining Reflections - Proposition Two.The problem of illegal mining on the Copperbelt and Chingola town in particular has been quite persistent for some time. The town has huge mine dumps accumulated over years of mining. These dumps came about because sometime back, when technology was not as advanced, it was difficult to extract all the copper from the ore. But with improved technology, it is now possible to extract more copper from the ore lying as mine dumps. ZCCM then just dumped the ore from which they could not extract copper, thereby creating huge mountains of ore overtime.
The dumps here belong to Konkola Copper Mines (KCM). These are the same dumps that have killed many people in the past. Because the illegal miners are not alive to safety matters, they carelessly did holes wherever they can in the dumps thereby compromising the base of these dumps. In an event of a downpour, the base is softened and this poses a risk of burying these illegal miners alive.
Being alive to the dangers if this illegal mining is left unchecked, KCM in conjunction with Zambia Police have been trying to curb this problem. Just last week, they took a group of journalists to the mine dumps for them to appreciate the impunity with which illegal miners had been conducting their activities.