Operations at the mineral slag dump in Kitwe commonly known as the Black Mountain have commenced after a three week recess necessitated by operational challenges.
Consortium of small scale miners and cooperatives operating at the Black Mountain spokesperson Kangwa Kamando said operations at the Black Mountain will continue following the allocation of a softer part of the portion by the major shareholder Nkana Alloy.
Operations that resumed this week were halted as members of a consortium encountered the hard part of their 30 percent allocation that needed blasting.
Mr. Kamando said his team had to engage Nkana Alloy because blasting was not an option at the Black Mountain.
The last time blasting was conducted at the Black Mountain over 100 houses located nearby were damaged in 2018.
The 126 families of Kitwe’s Nkana West area whose houses were damaged during the blasting of the copper slag dump were compensated last year.
Mr. Kamando said Nkana Allow has allowed the consortium to access the softer material as part of the 30 percent allocation.
He said members of the consortium do not want to repeat the risky blasting that caused havoc in 2018.
“As you may be aware we had a challenge with the hard part of the portion of the 30 percent allocation for the consortium. So we went round the table working with surveyors from the Ministry of Mines, Nkana Alloy and ourselves to exchange the hard part of the material with the softer one. We reached that agreement because we avoided the past situation where blasting happened and the entire community was put in danger. So Nkana Alloy was good to us, they agreed to give us the softer material that we are able to mine without any challenges,” Mr. Kamando said.
“We are working on this side of the Black Mountain and once we come to an end we expect to have a smooth exit from this site once we finish mining our portion. We are still working within the 30 percent that we were given. Part of the 30 percent was very hard material. We could not mine minus blasting. So we went to Nkana Alloy and sat around the table for them to exchange the hard portion with the softer material that we are able to mine without blasting,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nkana Alloy General Manager Hong Liu has assured Nkana West residents that despite the re-allocation to the consortium of the softer material the company will not conduct any blasting.
Mr. Hong said he was also hopeful that there would be a smooth transition once the 30 percent allocation is finished.
He said Nkana Alloy has enjoyed a good working relationship with the consortium at the Black Mountain.
“Thanks my Zambian brothers and friends. Just like my friend Mr. Kangwa Kamando mentioned, we are working together during the past months and we are working happily. So to avoid the risk of blasting we had a meeting and agreed to change the portion. The hard part remains for us after exchanging with the softer part. I am very happy during the past months that we have been working together and I am enjoying working with my friends. I hope we can complete the work smoothly by the end of this year. For Nkana Alloy we have time to work slowly but for our friends (consortium) they don’t have enough time to operate slowly,” Mr. Hong said.
Meanwhile, Nkana Alloy Company Secretary Robson Malipenga revealed that the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development was involved in the consultative process that led to the re-allocation of the softer portion at the slag dump.
The Government officially handed over 30 % of the Kitwe Mineral Slag Dump commonly known as Black Mountain to cooperatives owned by the local youth and women last February.
The Black Mountain located between Wusakile and Nkana West is owned by Nkana Alloy, who are the major shareholders with the Government having a minor stake.
President Hakainde Hichilema at the start of 2022 announced the handover of the Kitwe Black Mountain to a Consortium of cooperatives representing all the 10 districts of the Copperbelt province, the Women in mining group, and the Community hosting the black mountain.