Environmental and human rights issues

Copper mining and processing is not kind to the environment. There was, for example, spillage of hazardous material from the Konkola Mine into the Kafue River in December 2006. The Environmental Council of Zambia threatened to take the company to court but did not proceed, leaving some Zambians questioning why the council did not take action when it had a legal right to do so. 


There is no escaping the fact that Zambia and its people have not profited from the copper boom to the extent that foreign investors have. The amounts received in taxes from the large-scale copper mining industry has not had a visible socio-economic impact on the majority of Zambians: one percent of the value of copper extracted and sold by the foreign owners of the mines is insufficient for the rapid advancement and development that is necessary if Zambia is to attain the Millennium Development Goals.

Privatisation of the copper mines

The government unbundled the ZCCM and sold its assets in business packages on the advice of German-based firm Kienbaum Development Services. The latter was contracted
by the World Bank. As a result of the advice, the following asset packages/units were sold in 1998.
  • Chibuluma Mine was sold to the Metorex Consortium comprising Metorex, Maranda Mines (both South African junior mining companies), Crew Development Corporation
  • Copper Boom in Zambia: Boom for Whom? (a Canadian development company) and Genbel (formerly Randex) (an Australian

Copper mining industry in Zambia

Zambia’s economic development since the 1920s has been heavily dependent on the copper mining industry. Copper mining is Zambia’s largest industry and it is responsible for over 60 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Some 15 percent of Zambia’s total workforce is employed in the copper industry and it contributes over 10 percent to gross domestic product (GDP).

The Evolution of Diamond Mining in Lesotho

Lesotho is a country well known for its diamonds and is home to some of the biggest diamond finds in the world. However, since the discovery of diamonds at Letseng in 1967, the contribution of diamond mining to the economy of Lesotho has been unpredictable. In the past diamonds were not mined consistently because most of the initial feasibility studies conducted at the exploration stage showed that diamond mining in Lesotho could not be sustained and commercialised. This initial conclusion was, however, not supported by individual miners who continued to mine despite the survey findings.


Diamonds in Zimbabwe

May 01st, 2007

In October 2006, the Zimbabwean press broke news of a diamond finding in the remote district of Marange, in the eastern province of Manicaland. This immediately precipitated a scramble for the precious mineral by both local villagers and fortune hunters from outside the district, and indeed from outside the country. The Zimbabwe government is seeking to exert some regulation on the mining activities and on the diamond trade, but with limited success so far.



Subscribe to Mining