Environment and Community
The principal environmental legacy from 80 years of mining at Kabwe is widespread pollution in the Kabwe region. These problems are being addressed within the Copperbelt Environment Project (CEP), which the Zambian Government is carrying out with support from the World Bank and the Nordic Development Fund. As will be seen, BMR will be playing its part in fulfilling the objectives of the CEP.
The CEP’s main tasks are:
- to protect public health and safety
- to reduce or prevent damage to the environment
- to restore mine land and where possible make it available for productive use
- to promote better environmental practices in the mining sector
The Zambian Government, through ZCCM Investment Holdings Plc (ZCCM), retained responsibility for a wide range of environmental concerns which have not been passed on to the subsequent mining entities. Although BMR is thus insulated entirely from responsibility for legacy issues, it intends to fully play its part in remediating and improving the environment in carrying out activities at Kabwe.
Within the CEP, a Kabwe Scoping and Design Study (KSDS) has carried out three phases of a plan to determine the extent of the effects of historical mining activities in the Kabwe region and suggest remediation.
Phase 1 was executed in the period July 2004 to June 2005 and evaluated contamination of soils, air, water, crops and levels of blood lead in the local population, especially in children aged 0-7. Phase 2 traced the source and pathways of Pb and other polluting hazards. Phase 3, carried out in September 2005 to March 2006, determined a Site Rehabilitation and Environmental Management Plan (SREMP) to rehabilitate the Kabwe mine site and achieve a sustainable reduction in exposure to Pb in the region.
The Dumps at Kabwe consist of overburden (from mining); tailings (from the concentrator); slimes (from the refinery) and slag (from the smelter). The KSDS has already identified that significant waste material stored in the Dumps on site is classifiable as toxic. Dispersal of the pollutant material is carried out principally by silt runoff into waterways in the rainy season and as wind-blown dust.
The CEP has since inception produced detailed geotechnical assessments to define the remediation policy necessary to stabilise, treat and rehabilitate the Dumps. Berkeley Mineral Resources Plc intends to play a substantial role in this remediation policy.
Specifically, in accordance with the specifications laid down by the CEP, BMR will, after processing the Dump material to extract the contained minerals, re-locate the final waste to designated areas downwind, downstream and distant from urban regions thus removing a pollutant environment.
By processing the Dumps in an environmentally sustainable manner it will play a key role in removing a major hazard, contribute to public health and welfare and, through employment, help to regenerate an economically depressed region.
BMR is conscious of the need to contribute to the social, economic and cultural life of the Zambian community in which it operates.
In Kabwe, the Company has initially sponsored a local school including contributing to the construction of a safety wall, sports facilities and supplying a computer suite.