Association of Mine Suppliers and Contractors (AMSC) president Augustine Mubanga has urged all mining employees to be safety conscious when undertaking operations to reduce the chances of accidents.

And Mubanga says calls to suspend or revoke mining licenses of mining companies that have continuously been recording deaths should not be considered as relevant stakeholders, including workers themselves, will be affected.

Commenting on the increased frequency of mining accidents that have kept on occurring at Mopani Copper Mines and Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in recent days, Mubanga called on all mining employees to be safety conscious when undertaking operations.

He also said that the continuous mining accidents recorded at both Mopani and KCM cannot be blamed on the companies alone, but also on possible employees’ negligence.

“That is why we call them accidents because those are eventualities that are not planned for. So, suspending a mining license on account that a mine has continuously been having accidents will not be good for the economy. What is good for the economy is that both the mining operator and an employee should become safety conscious because when I go for work [in the mine] in the morning, I need to come back alive because there are other people that are depending on me, such as my family. So, those accidents that are happening in the mining sector, yes, it is very unfortunate that we can experience accidents continuously in mining companies. And when we look at most of these companies, they have got robust mining safety campaign and they have also invested heavily in their safety operations as well, which indicates that they are also conscious about ensuring that the worker who reports to their operations goes back home safely,” Mubanga said in an interview.

He revealed that mining accidents sometimes occur due to employees’ negligence.

“So, when an accident like the one that has happened at Mopani or KCM is a very unfortunate eventuality, which nobody would want to see. So, from our perspective, it is not a good idea to revoke the mining license on account that there is an accident at the particular mine. What we need, together with workers and the mines, contractors and everybody is to be cautious as we get to those mining operations so that we become safety agents ourselves, because sometimes you can blame it on a mine meanwhile, it was just an individual’s negligence. And when somebody is negligent, it’s very difficult to hold someone accountable because you don’t understand the circumstances in which that accident happened. And every contractor, every miner must feel safety when they go to these operations otherwise if we go underground and at the end of the day you are not sure whether you are coming out, it would be a very unfortunate eventuality,” he said.

He explained that as an Association, they conduct regular meetings with mining companies on safety management.

“We do have meetings almost on a fortnight basis with Mopani. Mopani would call us for meetings and we have safety meetings for almost the whole day going through all what is required. We go through training in terms of safety, in terms of operations when you are doing an operation. Before they allow you to do anything, you have to be inducted, you have to do an impact assessment, you have to do a risk assessment and so all these things are in place in order to ensure that the safety of a worker is uphold,” Mubanga said.

And Mubanga said calls to suspend or revoke mining licenses of mining companies that had continuously been recording deaths should not be considered as relevant stakeholders, including workers themselves, will be affected.

He, however, said that government may consider either suspending or revoking mining companies’ licenses only if safety procedures were found to be lacking.

“Working underground is a very strenuous environment. Underground [means that] you are going under the rock and you are operating from a rock. That rock at any time even due to natural movement of any circumstances, which we can’t blame on anyone because it is an accident, but if a mine has not put in any measures to ensure that safety is observed because there are no programmes that are put in place to bring awareness to the miners, then definitely, we would be able to move and recommend that government moves in even to the extent of revoking the license. It would mean that there are no measures that have been put in place to safeguard the safety of the miners. And if it comes to a situation where an accident has occurred, we need to ensure that we prevent any possible accidents that have happened in a similar line. That is why we need to put in all our efforts to ensure that an accident does not occur than going to an extent where we begin to wish for a revocation of the mining license. That will be quite extreme because the economy of Zambia depends on the activities happening in the mines. Every second, every minute and every hour the mine is running, then we know that the economy in Zambia will continue to grow,” said Mubanga.