Assessing sustainability in the politics on mining on the Copperbelt Province, Zambia
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After decades of economic stagnation, Zambia witnessed rapid economic growth fueled by investments in the country’s mining industry. However, the government and mine investors have been inconsistent in enforcing an ethical framework that ensures sustainable mining. Sustainable mining refers to the betterment of all Zambians presently and the future generation. Particularly the betterment of communities in Chingola District on the Copperbelt province. The paper focuses on Nchanga Copper Mine’s impacts on townships namely Shimulala and Kakosa which are in close proximity to the mine. Nchanga Copper Mine is one of the branches owned by Konkola Copper Mines Limited (KCM). Sustainable mining was assessed by evaluating the impacts of mining on the socio-economy and environmental contamination. The study argues that Zambia has enabled multinational companies such as KCM to degrade environment due to lack of strict environmental regulation. Data collection was conducted in Chingola District. To collect data, semi-structured interviews were used. Respondents were from Chingola Nchanga mine townships, workers form KCM, Nurses from Nchanga mine general hospital, environmentalists from the department of Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), and Laboratory technicians from Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company in Nchanga. The findings indicate that mining practices in Zambia are not sustainable. The economy is worse due to government’s failure to enforce strict tax and environmental regulations. Investors have failed to adhere to corporate social responsibility thus causing environmental contamination and other social problems such as poor sanitation and diseases. Water contamination, siltation, air and noise pollution are negative externalities affecting the local communities. Local people are not taught on how to handle pollution and are prone to easily getting ill. There is lack of compensation to the affected communities. Land degradation has hindered agricultural activities. Employment levels in Chingola District reduced due to the adoption of casualization and unemployment resulted to increased crimes in the townships. Nchanga Mine’s primary aim is to acquire substantial long-term profits will depriving the surrounding communities of a safe and clean environment.