Mopani is uncaring towards host communities, says Lange

THE statement by Mopani Copper Mines is a clear indication of how uncaring the company policy is towards host communities, says Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) Zambia representative Edward Lange. 
Commenting on company chief executive officer Danny Callow's statement that Mopani was surprised at the action taken by ZEMA to shut down its treatment plant and expressed fears for the 310 jobs created by the project, Lange said the government must be vigilant to protect the lives of innocent people in Mufulira. 
"Does it make any business sense to express surprise at the closure of the Heap Leach project when people have been living in anguish and pain and there have been stakeholders' discussions around the same project?" Lange asked. 
"Does it make any moral sense for a human being worth being a chief executive officer, to fear for the loss of 310 jobs at the expense of more than 3,000 lives? This clearly indicates that Mopani is not interested in resolving this issue amicably as they don't know where the information is coming from leading to the suspension when people are suffering from the presence and operations of the same project." 
Lange commended the Zambia Environmental Management Agency for taking a bold stance to shut down the project which had been causing acid fumes that were affecting the host community. 
As a result of the acid mist and rainfall, several people have developed chest infections and various cancers and it has been difficult for people to grow food crops except for avocado and cactus plants in Kankoyo and Butondo Townships, which host Mopani mines in Mufulira. 
Last week, ZEMA suspended operations at Mopani's Mufulira West Heap Leach Mining project and advised management to put in place measures to reduce effects of pollution in surrounding areas. 
But Callow issued a statement refuting the findings of ZEMA, saying that Mopani was surprised by the suspension of a part of its mines, particularly that ZEMA had recently renewed its operating licence.