Government has with immediate effect halted operations at Ferro Alloys Corporation Limited in Kabwe following numerous environmental violations by the Silicon Manganese Processing Plant.
The plant was also found with 18,629 50kilogrammes bags of charcoal all valued at K754,474.50 at the site after Minister of Green Economy and Environment Collins Nzovu visited the mining area.
This was contained in a statement issued in Lusaka on Thursday by the Ministry.
Nzovu was on a tour of Central and Copperbelt Provinces with a team of officers from the Forestry Department and the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to inspect and monitor Forestry Reserves, illegal mining and mining companies.
During a visit to Ferro Alloys Corporation Limited, Nzovu noted dust pollution, poor management of slag, lack of wastewater treatment facilities as the mine was discharging affluent from the plant into the open environment.
Ferro Alloys Corporation Limited processes Manganese ore to Silicon Manganese and the raw materials include Manganese ore, quartz, dolomite coke, coal. However, the inspection revealed that coal and charcoal was mixed during production.
Nzovu said Kabwe was one of the most polluted towns in the world having a history of lead poisoning and that government would not allow pollution especially from the mines anymore.
“Government wants to green Kabwe city and gone are the days when companies would operate with impunity saying that they were connected to the powers that be,” he said.
Nzovu said the illegalities in Kabwe were too much and government would not hesitate to shut down mining companies that continue to deliberately violate the laws of the country.
ZEMA acting Director General, Maxwell Nkoya, said the Agency was compelled to issue the sanctions as government has handheld the mining companies long enough, citing the earlier sanctions that the company was given.
“We are stopping operations until you comply in full to all conditions in the decision letter of appoval for the operations of Ferro Alloys Processing Plant. The activities at Ferro Alloy Processing Plant is now ordered to cease forthwith pursuant to section 106 of the Environmental Management (amendment) Act No. 8 of 2023,” he said.
Nkoya said at Tongyi Ferro Manganese Zambia Limited, it was observed that the operations were substandard, old and had archaic technology which was not in tandem with modern technology.
He said the general maintenance of the mine left much to be desired, there was no dust suppression and the ablution block was not fit for human use.
“The levels of impunity were so high as there were also so many mining companies getting materials from the illegal mines,” Nkoya said.
Meanwhile, the 18,629 50kg bags of charcoal bags found at Ferro Alloys Corporation Limited valued at K754,474.50 have since been seized to allow for legal process to take place.
Chief Forestry Officer, Victor Chiiba, said Central Province had the highest illegal charcoal activities in Zambia and that this needed conserted efforts to address the issue.
“It’s unfortunate that these illegalities are taking place right in the CBD of Kabwe. Officers need to step up their efforts to address this challenge by increasing monitoring. This would be in the best interest to save the remaining trees,” he said.
Provincial Forestry Officer Central Province, Odilia Longe, said the damage to the environment was grievous and warned the mining company of stern action if they continued using charcoal in the production process.
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