Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu says the mine has put in place a contingency and business continuity plan which includes putting the mine on care and maintenance, if need arises, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And Lungu says while KCM’s health facilities have enough doctors, there aren’t enough ventilators which might be needed if COVID-19 spreads further.

Meanwhile, KCM has provided two clinics in Chingola and Chililabombwe, as holding centres for COVID-19 suspected carriers in the two districts, K1.2 million for medical equipment and supplies.

In response to a press query on what plans KCM had put in place to avert the effects of the pandemic, Lungu said at the moment, the mine was still using the Congolese border for transportation following closure of the South African border.

“We have put in place a Contigency and Business Continuity Plan to address the issues raised. This includes putting the mine on care and maintenance in the event that such a move is warranted. For logistics, we are still using the Congolese border, however, we have had to use alternate routes for supplies from South Africa and tranship at the Zambian border for the trucks that have had drivers quarantined. It’s a moving target but we are reviewing our strategies on a weekend by week basis,” Lungu said.

He added that the mine has started the procurement of COVID-19 test kits.

“The first and critical step is to procure adequate testing kits which we have begun. We are quite confident on the staffing levels for doctors and nurses. The deficit however is on equipment such as ventilators. We do have emergency quarantine facilities and several persons have since been quarantined tested and released,” said Lungu.

Meanwhile, in a statement, KCM acting public relations manager Victoria Zimba said the mining giant had provided two clinics in Chingola and Chililabombwe, as holding centres for suspected COVID-19 carriers.

According to the statement, acting KCM general manager corporate affairs Shapi Shachinda said the Nchanga South Clinic in Chingola would have a bed capacity of 28 with a possibility of putting up tents on the premises in order to increase capacity in an event of overwhelming numbers, while Clinic 5 in Chililabombwe would initially have at least 5 beds.

Zimba stated that the two facilities would be handed to the Ministry of Health in the interim period would be reverted to normal medical use as Out-patient facilities for KCM once the war against COVID-19 was won.

“KCM is opening up the two clinics for purposes of holding people who will in the future be suspected to have the Coronavirus, while awaiting their transfer to the main Government isolation centre on the Copperbelt in Masaiti district. The company will also release K1.2 million for procurement of medical equipment and supplies,” Zimba quoted Shachinda as saying.

“KCM will procure equipment such as ventilators, oxygen concentrators, data scopes, autoclaving machine, incinerator, hand-washing facilities for use during the fight against COVID-19.”

Zimba stated that KCM had put in place communication protocols to educate and enlighten more than 12,000 permanent employees and those working for its business partners on the prevention of COVID-19, including providing sanitizers in operational areas.

She stated that the company had also printed posters and banners in English and local languages with key messaging, and some of the initiatives would be rolled out to communities in the company’s areas of operation.